With the addition of Florida, at least 48 states have joined together to investigate allegations of possible antitrust violations by Google. The tech industry giant has come under congressional scrutiny lately for the way that its platform manages public and private data.
Essentially, the question is whether or not there's really an actual market for advertisers -- or whether the process of advertising online is pretty much owned and operated by Google. Does Google so completely control online ads to the point that there is a de facto monopoly on the market? Those suspicious of the industry leader point out that:
- Google dominates the search engine market so completely that its name is synonymous with "looking something up online."
- Google owns Adsense, which is the primary service many companies use to place their online ads.
- Google distributes ads in videos through YouTube, which is also owned by Google.
There are also questions about how Google captures the data of users doing online searches, reading and sending emails, using social media and shopping. Many suspect the search engine of manipulating user information in order to steer people to "Google approved" ads and companies.
This is one of the few bipartisan actions to be embraced by both Republicans and Democrats. Even the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have joined the investigation. (So far, California and Alabama have chosen to stay out.)
Florida is also one of eight states that have joined together in a similar antitrust investigation and lawsuit against Facebook over similar issues. Both companies say they are cooperating with investigators.
Antitrust lawsuits can blindside you if you're unprepared. For information on what you can do to be proactive about the issue in your industry, talk to an experienced legal professional.