By Stacy Fernandez
Texas joined the Trump administration's lawsuit against Google, accusing the tech giant of monopolizing the search engine market and controlling how online ads are bought and sold, according to the suit filed Tuesday morning.
Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement that the multi-billion dollar company engaged in anti-competitive and exclusionary practices that eliminate competition for internet searches and search advertising.
"Google's anticompetitive business strategies have disrupted the competitive process, reduced consumer choice, and stifled innovation," Paxton said. "Our action today is intended to restore competition and allow rivals and next generation search engines to challenge Google so that the marketplace, not a monopolist, will decide how search services and search ads are offered."
Kent Walker, Google's senior vice president of global affairs and chief legal officer, called the federal lawsuit "deeply flawed."
"People use Google because they choose to, not because they're forced to, or because they can't find alternatives," Walker said in a statement. "This lawsuit would do nothing to help consumers. To the contrary, it would artificially prop up lower-quality search alternatives, raise phone prices, and make it harder for people to get the search services they want to use."
The lawsuit is a joint effort between the U.S. Department of Justice and the attorneys general of 10 other red states: Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana and South Carolina.
The suit calls Google a "monopoly gatekeeper for the internet" and claims that in addition to restricting competition on traditional search services and search advertising on computers and mobile devices, it blocked other companies from being part of robust emerging search platforms including voice assistants, smart speakers and cars.
Walker called the claim "demonstrably wrong."
"People find information in lots of ways: They look for news on Twitter, flights on Kayak and Expedia, restaurants on OpenTable, recommendations on Instagram and Pinterest," Walker said. "And when searching to buy something, around 60 percent of Americans start on Amazon. Every day, Americans choose to use all these services and thousands more."
In addition to hurting competitors, Paxton claimed Google's conduct hurt consumers by reducing their choices when it comes to privacy, data protection, use of consumer data and "ultimately diminishing the quality of search services."
This isn't the first time Paxton has gone against the prominent tech company. Last year, the Texas attorney general launched a landmark investigation into Google's multi-decade dominance along with 50 other attorneys general and experts that included Google's former rivals.
The investigation was the first major U.S. antitrust action against Google in about a decade. Paxton said the federal government repeatedly failed to take action against Google and Silicon Valley.
Nicklaus Pereksta says he loves photographing enthusiastic people, and it’s why his latest gig offering pictures to people out on Lady Bird Lake’s hike and bike trail is going smoothly. He sets up his gear on the Pfluger pedestrian bridge and puts out a sign: Photos, $10.
“Overwhelmingly, this has been a really positive experience,” Pereksta said. “I get excited when I wake up in the morning and I can't wait to go to work.”
Bikers and joggers are excited about it too. On the pedestrian bridge leading to downtown Thursday morning, a man on an e-bike rode up and posed, wanting more photos.
“I posted the last pictures on Instagram and people loved it. They asked, ‘where is this guy?’” the biker told Pereksta. Bashfully, Pereksta, who also photographs landscapes and at weddings and other events, said he was happy to hear that.
Pereksta started these photos about a month ago, after the strenuous runs required in his valet job started causing pain in his legs. And though he has a passion for photography, he wasn’t so sure when he started working independently if it would work out.
He felt uncertain about the demand for it and was also worried about having lots of expensive equipment out in the open.
“Then like the first day was nothing but high praise and people are like, this is so awesome. This is great. I've never seen anything like this before. I was like, Wow, this was really good, like positive turnout. So I got encouraged.”
Now, he wants to expand and is thinking of contacting the Mueller Farmers Market about how to become a vendor. Still, he'll carry a connection to photographing on the bridge since the word bridge is related to his last name.
“It's a name my great, great, great grandfather came up with when he was marrying somebody. It's actually quite a romantic name. It means a joining of two bridges," Pereksta said. "So, I thought it was ironic that I'm set up on a bridge. I'm kind of representing my last name right now.”
Austonia talked to Pereksta about life in Austin, where he’s lived for eight years after living in Boston doing band photography.
What was your first experience with Austin?
I came here to visit some friends and they took me to Barbarella. So we went to Barbarella and I was like, ‘wow, this place is great.’ And then the restaurants and the food and going to Barton Springs. I was like, ‘this is amazing.’ Because there's nothing like that in Boston. If you want to go to a natural spring, you got to go to New Hampshire. There's no pools in the city at all. So there's lots of swimming out here.
What do you like best about Austin?
You go to any little quiet bar and there's a band playing that should be like onstage for a sold out show. Yeah, they're playing to 10 people, right? Like, one of the best bands ever and they're playing for 10 people, right? And just little magic moments like that are pretty fun. You just run into little random weird things.
What do you think makes Austin different from other places?
There’s no fall.
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