Group of AGs has been discussing how to address antitrust-related concerns with Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon

Arizona among early states calling for investigation

Information from The Wall Street Journal

A group of states including Arizona is preparing to move forward with a joint antitrust investigation of big technology companies, according to people familiar with the situation, adding another layer of scrutiny to an industry already under a federal spotlight.

The effort involving state attorneys general is expected to be formally launched as soon as next month, the people said. It is likely to focus on whether a handful of dominant technology platforms use their marketplace powers to stifle competition.

The new investigation could dovetail with plans by the Justice Department, which last month announced its own antitrust review that will focus on tech companies including Alphabet Inc. ’s Google unit and Facebook Inc., the people familiar with the plans said.

The specific number of states that might join the investigation couldn’t be learned, though one person familiar with the effort said up to 20 or more may participate.

“Data …is really the new oil,” said Mark Brnovich, the Arizona attorney general, in a recent interview. “What’s happening is the giants are growing more and more powerful. The more data they gather… the better and smarter their software becomes, and that leads to increasing their lead and their dominance.”

That also could be leading to more manipulation of consumers and limiting of their choices, particularly in commercial settings but also in information, he added.

Google, Facebook, Inc. and Apple Inc., four companies likely to be a focus of the new investigation, all declined to comment. The companies generally say they operate fairly and don’t engage in anticompetitive behavior.

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