Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, shown here in September, 2019, said on Tuesday, Nov. 5, that a Sioux Falls police officer was justified in shooting Trent Wagner three times during a chase Oct. 6.

Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg has announced that South Dakota is joining with 50 attorneys general in a multi-state investigation of technology giant Google’s business practices in accordance with state and federal antitrust laws.

“The ability to access and gather information is essential in our world, and the internet provides us the tools to gather that information,” said Ravnsborg. “It is not a stretch to say that most South Dakotans, and Americans, think of Google first when searching the internet. Therefore we are examining their business practices to ensure our citizens’ privacy is not at risk.”

According to the attorney general’s news release, past investigations of Google uncovered violations ranging from advertising illegal drugs in the United States to three antitrust actions brought by the European Commission. None of these previous investigations, however, fully addressed the source of Google’s sustained market power or the ability to engage in serial and repeated business practices with the intention to protect and maintain that power.

The multi-state coalition is led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. It plans to investigate Google’s overarching control of online advertising markets and search engine traffic that may have led to anti-competitive behavior that harms consumers.

Legal experts from each state will work in cooperation with federal authorities to assess competitive conditions for online services and ensure that Americans have access to free digital markets.

“There is nothing wrong with a business becoming the biggest game in town if it does so through free market competition, but we have seen evidence that Google’s business practices may have undermined consumer choice, stifled innovation, violated users’ privacy and put Google in control of the flow and dissemination of online information,” said Paxton. “We intend to closely follow the facts we discover in this case and proceed as necessary.”

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