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— This is the script of CNBC's news report for China's CCTV on September 10, 2019, Tuesday.
A regulatory action took by some U.S. states is targeting at Google, but California, where Google's headquarter located in, and Alabama are not involved, so it is a fairly extensive national investigation in terms of scale and it is also a bipartisan investigation, which focus on ad and consumer data.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton
"This investigation is not a lawsuit. It is an investigation to determine the facts. Right now we're looking at advertising, but the facts will lead to where the facts lead."
Seen from recent signs, U.S. tech companies are facing a new round of regulatory tightening. Apart from this investigation, Google is facing the antitrust scrutiny from U.S. Department of Justice on the federal level. Last Friday, a joint antitrust probe into Facebook, which is similar but with smaller scale, was announced by New York Attorney General.
However, the investigations and fine have not made any real effect on these tech giants so far.
Recently, Google was slapped with $170 million by FTC as it violated children's privacy laws, but that is just a fraction of its half-day's revenue. Facebook was fined with $5b over its privacy practices by this institution not long ago, but Facebook's stock price didn't decline but rise when this news release that day , mainly because the penalties are less severe than expected.
The antitrust probe is targeting at the business model of tech companies, so it's more deterrent compared to the investigation about data collection and use. The latest investigation didn't bring any big influence to Google, in terms of the result of previous investigation and penalty, Google's parent company Alphabet just declined slightly on Monday trading.
Its stock price was down less than 1% at the press conference.
CNBC interviewed 6 U.S. antitrust experts regarding this issue, they believe this joint investigation is more like a layer of pressure putted to the investigation on federal level to prevent them from backing down from the probe on tech giants
Before that, some attorney generals also tried to prevent the combination of AT&T and Sprint, which are U.S. telecom carriers, with the reason of harming market competitiveness, but the Department of Justice passed this transaction finally. Microsoft also faced antitrust investigation when it was at its peak time, but ended in a settlement after protracted investigations and litigation, and it was not being demerged, but that made some state attorney generals unsatisfied.
As for Google, it is only in the investigation stage at present. Whether it will be prosecuted and how it will be judged after it is still unknown
Economic Analyst and Columnist, American Enterprise Institute
"If this is bad for consumers, they will get a very difficult case to make"
Douglas Melamed, a professor at Stanford law school, told CNBC that if people hope the investigation will lead to a break-up of Google or a fundamental change in its business model, they then will be very disappointed.