California attorney general vows to take Big Tech breaches to court

Rob Bonta says there are already many cases against Facebook and Google

California Attorney General Rob Bonta's office is part of a multi-state investigation into Meta Platforms' Instagram and its effect on the mental health of young people. AFP

California Attorney General Rob Bonta said he intended to pursue legal action against big tech companies that break state laws.

“We have multiple cases with Facebook, Google,” Mr Bonta told a TV network on Thursday. “This is an area of broad bipartisan support. You will see action legislatively, ongoing court cases as well.”

Since taking office in April, replacing Xavier Becerra who was named US Health and Human Services Secretary, Mr Bonta has inherited and joined several cases.

His office is part of a multi-state investigation of Meta Platforms’ Instagram and its effect on the mental health of young people.

It has also brought a suit against Alphabet’s Google over its Play app store and anti-competitive concerns.

“This is priority space for me, to hold big corporations, Big Tech specifically, accountable,” Mr Bonta told Bloomberg News on Thursday. “You should expect to see more."

Mr Bonta did not seem concerned about the risk of aggressive enforcement by his office encouraging companies to leave the state.

“We’re proud of our companies," he said. "We want them to stay here and follow the law.”

Success in business and abiding by the law are not “mutually exclusive", said Mr Bonta, a Democrat who is up for re-election this year.

He also said a recent breakout in crime, particularly smash-and-grab robberies, was a concern.

“We are working with the governor and his new budget proposal, the safety plan, to make sure we are addressing those spikes, taking them head-on,” Mr Bonta said.

Updated: January 27, 2022, 9:08 PM