Alaska joins investigation into Google advertising

Alaska has joined in a multistate, bipartisan antitrust investigation to determine whether tech giant Google’s overarching control of online advertising markets and search traffic constitutes anticompetitive behavior harmful to consumers.

With that decision, Alaska Attorney General Kevin Clarkson in Washington, D.C., Alaska joins every state except for Alabama and California, plus Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia in the investigation. 

The investigation is being led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who announced the investigation Sept. 9 on the steps of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. Clarkson was one of 11 attorneys general who joined Paxton for the announcement.

The group plans to work in cooperation with federal authorities to assess competitive conditions for online services to ensure that Americans have access to free digital markets.

“A free and competitive market is vital to smaller businesses to be able to compete, and this is especially true in Alaska where businesses are trying to market beyond our borders both nationally and internationally,” Clarkson said. “Alaska has a vibrant and growing small business community that relies increasingly on internet advertising. This is also true of digital publishers, such as newspapers, websites and blogs. Anticompetitive conduct of the kind we are investigating has the potential to harm Alaskan businesses through artificial hikes in cost and stifling innovation.” 

Clarkson noted that past investigations of Google uncovered violations ranging from advertising illegal drugs in the United States to three antitrust actions brought by the European Commission.

Since 2010, the European Union has launched three separate antitrust investigations into Google for violation of the EU’s competition laws. Google has to date been fined billions of dollars for antitrust behavior in cases related to Google Shopping and Android.

Clarkson said that none of the investigations to date have fully addressed the source of Google’s sustained market power and the ability to engage in serial and repeated business practices with the intention to protect and maintain that power.