Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said he wants the public to weigh in on the question of whether internet search engines should be “allowed to favor their own products and services in search results.”
Yost has requested comment from the public about the practice of steering consumers to search results that boost profits for companies that own the platforms.
“Should Google, for example, be able to put its own products above everybody else’s products in the search results? We want to know if you think that kind of thing is unfair or deceptive, or if you’re OK with it,” Yost said in a press release.
The public’s input will inform the office as it considers whether to pursue new protections for search engine users, Yost’s office said. A proposed rule could seek to regulate internet search results that preference or display in a more prominent position products and services owned or operated by search providers.
Yost joined 49 fellow attorneys general in September in launching an antitrust investigation into Google’s advertising practices.
“Antitrust has always been about the concentrated power to dominate the market and society. Money is the traditional tool to gain that monopoly power,” Yost said at the time. “Data is the new money.”
As of April, the attorneys general involved in the investigation were determining if they should accelerate the probe or focus their resources on the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. Department of Justice is conducting a separate antitrust investigation of Google’s advertising business.
Google isn’t the only tech giant in Yost’s crosshairs. In September, he joined seven other states in launching an investigation into Facebook for possible antitrust violations.
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