The time of "letting go, letting go" that has been enjoyed by large technology companies in the United States seems to be nearing its decline.
The number of investigations into the business practices of the Silicon Valley giants has been growing in recent times, as more elements emerge suggesting that the possibility of them being subject to new regulations is real.
This Monday, the attorney generals of 50 states and territories of the United States announced the beginning of an investigation around Google's domain in the internet advertising market.
The indite coalition – in which 48 states of that country participate with Puerto Rico and the capital District of Columbia – warns of the risk that the powerful search engine is becoming a threat to its competition and to consumers.
They have also expressed concern about the way Google orders the results of its searches as well as the protection it gives to the personal information of its users.
Last Friday, an inquiry was announced by another group of states about Facebook. It also seeks to determine whether the company founded by Mark Zuckerberg has suffocated the competition and offers sufficient protection for the private information of its users.
These actions are added to others initiated by Congress, the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Some of these investigations are driven by members of both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, which is considered as an indicator of how the political consensus in the United States is growing on the need to put limits on technology giants.
Texas attorney general Ken Paxton, who led the meeting at which the investigation was announced to Google, stressed that the company dominates "all aspects of advertising and internet searches."
"There is nothing wrong with a company becoming the largest in its area if it does so through free competition," he said.
"But we have seen evidence that Google's business practices may have reduced consumer options, stifled innovation, violated user privacy and granted that company control over the flow and dissemination of information," he added.
Google accounts for around 38% of Internet advertising spending in the United States – from which it obtains about US $ 48,000 million annually -, followed by Facebook, whose market share is 22%, according to eMarketer, a consulting firm specializing in The digital business sector.
However, the participation of both companies in the sector is beginning to decrease due to the insurgency of other companies such as Amazon, which increasingly attracts more money from advertisers.
Asked about this new research, Google referred to a statement made last week in which they highlighted the history of that company in innovation.
They indicated that it is not the first time that their business is criticized.
"We have always worked constructively with the regulatory bodies and will continue to do so," they added.
Pressure on Washington
Historically, the United States has lagged behind the European Union and other countries when it comes to regulating the operation of technology companies.
However, last July the US Department of Justice said it would review whether the practices of "the main online platforms" had stifled the competition.
The US Congress, for its part, is holding hearings about the growth of monopoly power in the digital market.
The FTC also recently announced the imposition of fines against Facebook and Google's parent company, Alphabet.
The fact that Google’s research announced Monday is driven by 48 of the 50 US states. (with the exception of California and Alabama), it is not an element that has gone unnoticed.
The critics of the tech giants, who have long complained about Washington's lack of action, have said they expect these state initiatives to put pressure on something to be done about it.
"Historically, federal authorities have spearheaded these processes. They are the ones who are taken seriously (by companies)," said Matthew Stoller, a researcher at the Open Markets Institute, an antitrust research center.
"That the states now come out and say 'let's do this on our own' is something important," he said.
Scandals like Cambridge Analytics seem to have opened the way for the adoption of standards that establish control over the technology giants, something that some analysts already consider inevitable.
Not surprisingly, last March, Mark Zuckerberg himself published an opinion piece in The Washington Post that advocated a "more active" role for governments and regulatory bodies.
"By updating the rules of the Internet, we can preserve the best that it has – the freedom for people to express themselves and for entrepreneurs to build new things – while protecting society from further damage," Zuckerberg wrote,
In his text, the founder of Facebook expressly advocated establishing regulations in relation to four areas: publication of harmful content, protection of electoral processes, privacy and portability of personal information.
(tagsToTranslate) The unprecedented antitrust macroinvestigation to Google initiated by 50 states and territories of the United States – LA NACION