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States to expand Google antitrust probe into search and Android businesses

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Before today, they were investigating its advertising practices

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

The 50 attorneys general investigating Google for potential antitrust violations are expected to expand their probe and examine the company’s Android and search businesses, not just its advertising practices, CNBC reported on Thursday.

Last September, nearly every attorney general in the United States announced that they would take part in an antitrust investigation of Google led by Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. At the time, Paxton said that the probe would primarily focus on Google’s ads business because the company “dominates all aspects of advertising on the internet and searching on the internet.” But it looks as though their investigation will be widening and officials will begin to examine whether the company has acted anti-competitively with its search and Android software products.

“At this point, the multistate investigation is focused solely on online advertising; however, as always, the facts we discover as the investigation progresses will determine where the investigation ultimately leads,” a spokesman for the Texas attorney general told CNBC.

The coalition of attorneys general will soon be subpoenaing Google for information pertaining to its search and Android services, CNBC reported. When The Verge requested a comment, Google declined to confirm whether it had received the civil investigative demands, or CIDs, as of publication.

In September when the attorneys general first announced their investigation, Google’s senior vice president of global affairs wrote in a blog post, “We have answered many questions on these issues over many years, in the United States as well as overseas, across many aspects of our business, so this is not new for us.” He continued, “We have always worked constructively with regulators and we will continue to do so.”

The European Commission has investigated Google’s business practices in these areas, and previously fined the company a record $5 billion for bundling its search engine and Chrome apps onto the Android operating system.