by Chris White
The attorneys general who are involved in an antitrust investigation targeting Google are weighing whether to press the accelerator on the probe or focus resources on the coronavirus response.
Google is doing everything it can to protect not only its employees, but also Americans, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry told the Daily Caller News Foundation. He is referring to what he said was the company’s work to help the Trump administration on the virus response.
Landry is one of the 33 attorneys general who is helping to spearhead the probe.
“I think that all resources of the government are focused on the mission of ending this pandemic as quickly and less costly a life standpoint as possible. Right now states for sure are the front line of this pandemic,” Landry said.
He added: “Every ounce of our resources are being directed toward this response.” Landry declined to say whether he will continue full-bore on the investigation against Silicon Valley companies that many conservatives believe are monopolizing the digital domain.
Landry and other attorneys general have focused on Google’s dominance in the ad market as well as the company’s use of consumer data.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, for his part, said in September 2019 that the probe could expand. He is leading the charge and accused Google in February of delaying the case as the company tries to prevent officials from bringing in outside consultants.
Google competitors said the company uses its technology and power to squeeze out the competition while favoring its own product. The company’s multi-billion dollar acquisition of DoubleClick in 2007 helped bolster the company’s foothold in advertising technology.
Google did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
Landry, for his part, said he is marshaling his offices resources toward bringing down legal hurdles that might prevent Louisianans citizens from gaining access to hydroxychloroquine, a drug used to treat malaria that has shown promise in reducing symptoms in people suffering with COVID-19.
Louisiana reported a 2,726 more coronavirus cases Thursday — a roughly 42% increase from a day earlier.
Other attorneys general involved in the pursuit are expressing a different position.
“Our investigation and the resources committed to it remain ongoing and unchanged,” Kayleigh Date, a spokeswoman for Paxton, told the DCNF in a statement addressing what Texas’s Republican attorney general plans on doing with regard to the probe.
New York Attorney General Letitia James and the Department of Justice engaged in their own antitrust investigations with eight other attorneys general from Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina and Ohio into Facebook for similar monopoly concerns.
The DOJ declined to provide a comment to the DCNF about the nature of the probe. Date said the coronavirus, which originated in China and has killed tens of thousands of people worldwide, will not “affect our ability to pursue the investigation as planned.”
Democratic Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller’s office echoed Paxton’s continued support for the probe.
“We remain committed, however, to pursuing other investigations into potential wrongdoing, including our announced antitrust investigations into some of the major technology firms. Our efforts have not slackened on that front,” Lynn Hicks, a spokeswoman for Miller’s office, told DCNF.
Miller, a Democrat, is experienced in antitrust issues — his state helped level an investigation against Microsoft, which resulted in lawsuits from both the states and Justice Department. A judge eventually decided to break up the monster software company.
Conservative groups cheering on the probe remain resolute.
Landry and the other attorneys general are “making sure that Big Tech does not take advantage of the crisis to expand their power on the back of human suffering,” Rachel Bovard, Senior Advisor to the Internet Accountability Project, told the DCNF. “Their vigilance is commendable.”
Google meanwhile is stepping up efforts to help the Trump administration on the virus. The company is creating a tool helping health officials track people’s movements to help determine if citizens are complying with social distancing guidelines, according to the company’s website.
The Silicon Valley giant plans to regularly update the so-called “community mobility reports,” which will display the change in people’s visits to public places such as grocery stores, parks, homes and so forth, according to the company.
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Chris White is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.