States including North Carolina, Mississippi, Texas and others have met with top Justice Department officials in Washington last month to discuss a multi-state effort to investigate big tech companies for anti-trust violations, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing unnamed sources.
The multi-state effort may be announced as soon as next month, the Journal reports, and would represent the third major government investigation underway into some of the largest American tech companies.
The states involved are run by Attorney's General who are members of both political parties, Democrats and Republicans. Their investigations into companies like Alphabet's Google and Facebook would likely be done in coordination with investigations by the U.S. Justice Department.
Representatives from about a dozen states attended the meetings. Enlisting the help of the states in a bipartisan probe could help GOP officials defend against accusations that federal investigations into tech companies are politically motivated.
Last month, The Department of Justice said it had launched a broad probe into top "online platforms" for search, social media, and e-commerce. It didn't name, names but the wording left no doubt that the subjects included Alphabet, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple.
The Federal Trade Commission, which recently fined Facebook $5 billion for privacy violations, is carrying out an antitrust probe into Facebook. On Monday, FTC Chairman Joseph Simons, discussed the potential of breaking up Facebook's past acquisitions of companies like Instagram and WhatsApp, according to the Financial Times.
Simons told the FT that reversing those mergers could be more difficult because of Facebook's recent efforts to integrate the backend technology of the various products. But he noted that there might be "additional evidence" that Facebook used the acquisitions to "snuff out" competition.
Beyond investigations into big tech by the Trump Administration, Democratic candidates have also been calling for investigations and other regulation of big tech companies and new technologies. Elizabeth Warren has called for breaking up Amazon, Google, and Facebook. On Monday, Bernie Sanders also called for banning sales of facial recognition technology to law enforcement agencies.
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