Google AG probe: States desire responses on personal privacy and antitrust

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Fifty attorney generals of the United States previously today opened an antitrust examination into the search service at Google and Alphabet, its moms and dad business. But the states likewise have another interest: Alphabet’s personal privacy and information collection practices.

In a 29-page file, the attorney generals of the United States asked for that Google produce more than 230 descriptions or files connected to the business’s items, consisting of the Chrome internet browser, YouTube, AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) and AdMob advertisement platform. The states are looking for files that go back to January 2014 and anticipate responses from Google by Oct. 9.

The file, referred to as a civil investigative need, was sent out to Kevin Yingling, Alphabet’s senior competitors counsel, by the workplace of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who’s leading the examination. The probe consists of involvement from 48 states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico. CNET submitted a public records demand to get the file, which was formerly reported by Bloomberg. 

The AGs’ demand explains their interest exceeds antitrust, which has actually been the marquee problem talked about up until now, and into Google’s personal privacy policy. In one need, the AGs have actually asked Google to discuss the “business justification” for having its login tool, which enables individuals to check in to third-party websites with their Google qualifications, likewise gather info about users throughout gadgets.


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Another demand asks Google to explain what types of behavioral data it collects when people visit a website on Chrome or view an AMP page. Another asks the company to explain how it collects data on mobile devices for “retargeting,” which follows your activity across apps and websites, showing you the same ads as you move around online. One request asks the company to explain how an Android ad tool “tracks individual users across different applications” on the mobile operating system.

Reached for comment, Google pointed to a blog post it published last week written by Senior Vice President of Global Affairs Kent Walker. In the missive, Google acknowledges the regulatory scrutiny and says it’ll work with with government officials. Paxton’s office didn’t respond to questions about the scope of the investigation to focus on data and privacy.

The states’ probe comes as Silicon Valley faces increased heat from government regulators, who’ve targeted tech companies over potential anti-competitive behavior, privacy breaches and data misuse. Last week, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced a similar probe into Facebook. 

Google is the clear leader when it comes to US digital advertising and has more than 37% of the market, according to eMarketer. Facebook follows at No. 2 with around 22%. Though Google has a commanding advantage, rivals like Amazon, which owns 9% of the market, have made inroads in recent years. 

Still, Google is miles ahead when it comes to search advertising, ads that are tied to specific terms. Google has almost 75% of the search advertising market, according to eMarketer, while its nearest competitor, Microsoft, follows far behind at almost 7%.

Though the AGs delve into data collection, they’re still mostly asking about advertising. The probe requests information and documents related to Google’s ad tech acquisitions, such as DoubleClick and AdMob, which helped turn it into a juggernaut that generates more than $100 billion a year in revenue. 

Paxton, who announced the probe on Monday during a press conference on the steps of the US Supreme Court, indicated the investigation could go beyond Google’s ad business. 

“It’s an investigation to determine the facts,” Paxton said. “Right now it’s about advertising, but the facts will lead where they lead.”

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