Attorneys general launch investigation into Google - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Attorneys general launch investigation into Google

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(WSIL) -- Dozens of state attorneys general, including all those from our area, are launching an investigation into Google and its advertising practices. And it's not just the search engine that's being targeted, some of the tech industry's biggest names are facing antitrust scrutiny. 

A bipartisan group of attorneys general representing 48 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico have launched a multi-state investigation into the search engine. The states that have not joined the inquiry are Alabama and California (the home to Google and Facebook).

On Monday, 13 of those attorneys general made the announcement on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court criticizing Google for its billions of dollars in profits, saying web access may seem free but it comes at a cost.

Republican Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody asked, "Is something really free if we are increasingly giving over our privacy information?"

The probe will initially look into Google's advertising business but it will likely expand. The attorneys are investigating Google for anti-competitive behavior and potentially harming both consumers and business owners that are highly dependent on online sales. 

Although the probe focuses on Google, other companies could be drawn in by the states either as targets of other investigations or to serve as effective witnesses.

Republican Missouri Attorney General, Eric Schmitt, said, "Which is why this investigation is so important. That we ensure that we absolutely ensure that even the biggest of big tech companies are accountable."

This investigation is not a lawsuit yet. However, if Google is found to have acted in a way that broke U.S. Antitrust rules, the company could be forced to divest itself of parts of its business.

CNN contributed to this report.

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