California, Google’s home state, has launched an antitrust investigation into the search giant, according to a report late Thursday by Politico.
News of the reported probe comes months after a coalition of state attorneys general, led by Texas’ Ken Paxton, announced in September that it’s investigating Google’s massive digital ad operation, as well as other areas of the business that may harm competitors. Only two states — California and Alabama — were missing from the group.
At a press conference a month later, Becerra hinted that his office might indeed be probing the tech giant. “How do you know we’re not investigating?” he told reporters, when asked about the state’s absence from the wider probe. Google is based in Mountain View, California, about 40 miles south of San Francisco.
The focus of California’s reported probe is unclear. In an email, Becerra’s office said, “To protect its integrity, we do not comment on a potential or ongoing investigation.” Google declined to comment.
The report comes as Google faces intense antitrust scrutiny. The US Department of Justice has also been probing alleged anticompetitive behavior from the search giant, and is expected to file a lawsuit against the company this summer. Google CEO Sundar Pichai is scheduled to appear alongside the CEOs of Facebook, Apple and Amazon at a hearing before the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee later this month, part of a broader examination of antitrust in Silicon Valley.
Google has also been the target of lawsuits by other state attorneys general. In May, the search giant was hit by a consumer fraud lawsuit filed by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, alleging the search giant deceives its users in order to collect location data from their phones.
The suit follows another from February, when New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas sued Google for allegedly violating federal child privacy laws through its educational platforms. The lawsuit accused Google of collecting information on students’ locations, their passwords and what websites they’ve visited.