Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said Tuesday that Google wields an “incredible amount of power” and that’s why 50 state attorneys general have launched an antitrust investigation.
“Google has such a vast control over digital advertising in particular and that’s what this investigation is beginning with,” Rutledge told “America’s Newsroom,” adding that she and her counterparts want to “ensure that that power continues to be used for good.”
The attorney general’s comments come after all 50 U.S. states and territories, led by Texas, announced an investigation into Google’s “potential monopolistic behavior.”
“We want to make sure that we protect the free market, protect consumers and give them every opportunity,” Rutledge said.
A key issue in the probe is whether Google abuses its market dominance in online search, advertising and mobile operating systems to unfairly gain leverage in other markets, stifling innovation and harming consumers. Although the perceived anti-conservative bias among Google’s leadership frequently draws the ire of top Republicans, the antitrust probes do not expressly relate to those concerns.
Rutledge said the investigation will look into how Google search results are determined and how they affect the consumer.
“Only the highest-paid may be on the first page. So you may need to go to a second, third or fourth page to find the best products and services available to you,” she said, questioning whether the consumer is always getting the most accurate information.
As the mother of a 13-month-old daughter, Rutledge said she has mothers and fathers in mind, explaining that many young parents will use Google to search for medical information or advice when their child is sick.
“I want to make sure every mom, every dad … are getting the most accurate information possible and not simply the doctor or clinic who has paid the most in digital advertising.”
Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has a market value of more than $820 billion and controls so many facets of the Internet that it’s fairly impossible to surf the web for long without running into at least one of its services. Google’s dominance in online search and advertising enables it to target millions of consumers for their personal data.
“Google’s services help people every day, create more choice for consumers, and support thousands of jobs and small businesses across the country,” a Google spokesperson told Fox News in an emailed statement last week. “We continue to work constructively with regulators, including attorneys general, in answering questions about our business and the dynamic technology sector.”