Updated: Jan 19, 2021
In December, Google and Facebook were both confronted with new antitrust lawsuits
In early December, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and 46 state Attorneys General, along with Guam and the District of Columbia, brought an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook. The bipartisan effort claims that "Facebook illegally maintains monopoly power by deploying a buy-or-bury strategy that thwarts competition and harms both users and advertisers". Alabama was one of just four states not to join in the lawsuit. Twenty-two of the twenty-six states with Republican Attorney Generals joined the effort.
Later in December, two new antitrust lawsuits were brought against Google. The first legal action was brought by 10 state Republican Attorneys General who will attempt to "establish that Google is guilty of antitrust evils" and seek to "ensure that Google won't be evil anymore".
"Don't be evil" was part of Google's company code of conduct when the company was founded and it became a company motto. They dropped that motto in 2015.
The second lawsuit was brought the next day by 35 state Attorneys General. This bipartisan action, which includes fourteen of the twenty-six state Republican Attorneys General, was brought to "restrain Google from unlawfully restraining trade and maintaining monopolies in markets that include general search services, general text search advertising, and general search advertising". Alabama Republican Attorney General Steve Marshall did not join either lawsuit.
It's not the first time
In October, 2020, 11 Republican state Attorneys General joined the Attorney General of the United States in an antitrust lawsuit against Google. This action was brought to "restrain Google from unlawfully maintaining monopolies in the markets for general search services, search advertising, and general search text advertising through noncompetitive and exclusionary practices". Steve Marshall also elected not to participate in this lawsuit.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall is the only state Attorney General in the nation who did not join any of the national lawsuits against Big Tech.
These lawsuit efforts against Facebook and Google began in the fall of 2019. While Steve Marshall decided not to participate at the time, the Attorneys General from Alabama neighbor's Florida and Tennessee took leadership roles in the Facebook investigation.
A source told the Alabama Free Press (AFP) that in October, 2019, Steve Marshall responded to a question about the Google lawsuit at a Republican club meeting in Montgomery. At that meeting he stated that he thought the Google investigation went outside of just antitrust into areas that he felt were not specific to what an Alabama Attorney General should be doing. In addition, he told those present that he did not like that the Attorneys General called a press conference to announce the investigation.
Photo Credit: Sora Shimazaki,Pexels
Steve Marshall serves as the Policy Chairman on the Executive Committee of the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA). Many companies make contributions to RAGA including Facebook, who according to IRS filings, contributed $63,350 to them in 2020.
In 2015, Google announced that they were going to build a data center in north Alabama which was to provide 75 to 100 jobs. Some have speculated that the decision not to participate in the lawsuits was linked to Alabama economic development related to Big Tech.