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Nevada AG Aaron Ford joins Google antitrust lawsuit

CARSON CITY — Nevada is joining 48 states, Puerto Rico and District of Columbia in an antitrust probe of tech giant Google’s dominance in digital advertising and search traffic, Attorney General Aaron Ford announced Monday.

The bipartisan, multistate effort is being led by Texas and that state’s Republican attorney general, Ken Paxton, and was announced Monday on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court. Among states, only California and Alabama did not join.

Ford, in a statement, cited Google’s predominance in all aspects of the day-to-day digital life of consumers — from making online purchases and paying bills to staying connected with friends and family.

“This investigation will uncover whether Google’s business practices are negatively affecting individuals and businesses,” Ford said, adding that he was “encouraged that such a large coalition is united in this initiative.”

Paxton, in an announcement from his office, said experts from each state would work with federal authorities to assess competition for online services such as search to “ensure that Americans have access to free digital markets.”

“There is nothing wrong with a business becoming the biggest game in town if it does so through free-market competition, but we have seen evidence that Google’s business practices may have undermined consumer choice, stifled innovation, violated users’ privacy, and put Google in control of the flow and dissemination of online information,” Paxton said in a statement.

Last week, as word of the state-level probe surfaced, Google also disclosed that the Justice Department also was eyeing the company’s online platforms.

“We have answered many questions on these issues over many years, in the United States as well as overseas, across many aspects of our business, so this is not new for us,” Kent Walker, Google’s senior vice president for global affairs wrote in a Friday blog post. “The DOJ has asked us to provide information about these past investigations, and we expect state attorneys general will ask similar questions. We have always worked constructively with regulators and we will continue to do so.”

Attorneys general from eight states and the District of Columbia led by New York announced a similar probe of Facebook on Friday. Nevada is not involved that effort. Together the Google-Facebook duopoly controls about three-fifths of the U.S. digital advertising market.

Contact Bill Dentzer at bdentzer@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-0661. Follow @DentzerNews on Twitter.

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