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Facebook the focus of US Justice Department and state AGs

Reuters

Published
Modified 8 Oct 2019, 3:14 am

US state attorneys general investigating Facebook Inc (FB.O) for alleged anti-competitive practices met on Monday with officials of the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission, New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement.

The group met with US Attorney General William Barr to discuss the Facebook probe, as well as with Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and Makan Delrahim, who heads the department’s Antitrust Division, two sources said.

“Today, we held bipartisan conversations with attorneys general from around the country and key officials at both the US Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission about our investigation into Facebook,” James said.

Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson was also present and issued a similar statement.

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, whose state is one of the lead states on the probe, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein and Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller also attended the meetings, their offices said.

James (above) and Peterson reiterated concerns that Facebook and other big tech companies engage in anti-competitive practices, expose consumer data to potential data breaches and push up advertising prices.

The meeting came after Reuters and other outlets reported on Sept 25 that the Justice Department would open an antitrust investigation of Facebook, which also faces probes by the Federal Trade Commission and the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee.

The state attorneys general probe of Facebook, announced in September, is being led by New York and includes Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and the District of Columbia.

Following the meetings with top Justice Department officials, the state attorneys general met with department staffers, one source said.

Axios reported the plans for the meeting earlier.

Facebook, which owns one-time rivals Instagram and WhatsApp and has 2.4 billion monthly users, agreed in July to pay a US$5 billion FTC settlement for various privacy violations.

Reuters and others reported in June that the Justice Department and FTC had divided responsibility for the companies being investigated, with the Justice Department taking Alphabet Inc’s Google (GOOGL.O) and Apple Inc (AAPL.O) while the FTC looked at Facebook and Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O).

The Justice Department later said it was opening a probe of online platforms, which would include Facebook.

- Reuters

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