Cryptocurrency News Today: Facebook Faces Antitrust Investigation by State Attorneys General – The New York Times
There is a major force uniting America’s fiercely partisan politicians: big technology companies. Democrats and Republicans at the federal and state levels are coming together to scrutinize the power of the Silicon Valley giants and, potentially, to rein them in.
Letitia James, the Democratic attorney general of New York, announced on Friday that attorneys general in eight states — four Democrats and four Republicans — and the District of Columbia had begun an antitrust investigation of Facebook.
Next up for state regulators is Google. A similarly bipartisan group led by eight attorneys general is set to announce on Monday a separate but comparable investigation. The search giant is expected to be the focus of the inquiry, according to two people familiar with the plan, who spoke on the condition of anonymity before the official announcement. Attorney General Ken Paxton of Texas, a Republican, is taking a leading role in the Google investigation, the people said.
The state inquiries coincide with bipartisan scrutiny of the tech giants in Washington, by House and Senate committees, the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission. Federal officials are examining the practices of Amazon and Apple as well as those of Facebook and Google.
The companies have caught the attention of Republicans and Democrats for somewhat different reasons. President Trump and political conservatives complain that the social media giants discriminate against them. Liberals say online platforms are barely policed conduits for right-wing conspiracy theories and racism.
As a result, the various investigations reach beyond the companies’ size, wealth and market power — the usual concerns of antitrust regulators. The companies’ handling of consumer data, their ad-targeting practices and their role as gatekeepers of communication are all under a microscope.
“The dominance of these giant technology companies warrants a closer look,” said Representative David Cicilline, the Rhode Island Democrat leading the House antitrust subcommittee that is investigating the big tech corporations. “I’m glad that members of both parties understand that.”
Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, who began an investigation of Google in 2017, when he was his state’s attorney general, also cheered on the state officials.
“I’m heartened to see a new group of attorneys general with the courage to stand up to these powerful companies and fight for citizens,” he said on Friday.
The federal and state inquiries of today’s big tech companies are just getting started. Major investigations of industry titans like AT&T, IBM and Microsoft in the past were marathon endeavors, spanning years, and sometimes decades.
But Harry First, an antitrust expert at the New York University School of Law, said that rising public concern about the biggest tech companies was fueling the new spate of inquiries.
“It remains to be seen if we’re seeing the beginning of the hard work of serious enforcement or this is mainly political theater,” said Mr. First, a former official in the New York attorney general’s office. “But this matters, because nothing is going to happen without political support.”
Joining New York and the District of Columbia in the investigation of Facebook are the attorneys general of Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio and Tennessee.