Hawley to Investigate Google for Alleged Antitrust Violations

Credit Chris Ratcliffe  Bloomberg

Credit Chris Ratcliffe Bloomberg

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley announced on Monday that he's launching an investigation into Google's business practices, citing concerns the internet giant may be violating the state's principal consumer-protection statute or its antitrust laws. The state has issued Google a subpoena seeking information about its business practices. "However, we have strong privacy protections in place for our users and continue to operate in a highly competitive and dynamic environment", Lenihan said.

"There is strong reason to believe that Google has not been acting with the best interest of Missourians in mind", Hawley said in a statement. Hawley acknowledged that Google entered an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission in 2012 to stop this so-called scraping practice, but criticized the commission for failing to substantially punish the search giant.

When asked whether his bid for national office influenced his decision to go after one of the most influential tech companies in the world, Hawley said, "My decision to pursue Google goes back to my oath of office", to protect the people of Missouri.

Hawley noted Google has access to an estimated 70 percent of all card transactions in the United States, as well as online users' location, device information, cookie data, online queries and website history. Claire McCaskill in 2018 - slammed the Obama-era Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for being too easy on Google. It's also looking into allegations that the company manipulates search results to favor its own websites over competitors', which has been the subject of recent scrutiny in Europe. The investigation comes on the heels of a $2.7 billion fine issued to the company by the European Union for antitrust violations.

Hawley's office, in addition to other state attorney generals, are also investigating Equifax over the role that company played in a massive data breach.

According to the Kansas City Star, the investigation delves into Google's collection of data on users and whether Google has manipulated search results at the expense of competitors.

Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc., didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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