Missouri AG subpoenas Google in antitrust investigation

Andrew Cummings
November 13, 2017

The state of Missouri is gearing up for a legal battle with Google.

Hawley's office is checking into what Google does with the user information it collects and allegations that it inappropriately scrapes information from competitors' websites.

Google spokesman Patrick Lenihan in a Monday statement said the company has "strong privacy protections in place" and operates in a "highly competitive" environment. The attorneys general of Utah and the District raised a flag past year, urging the Federal Trade Commission to reopen its investigation into Google's search practices, although the agency has not said it would do so.

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Hawley says he plans to examine several issues, including whether Google's privacy policy adequately discloses its data-mining practices.

In June, the European Union issued Google a record $2.7 billion antitrust fine. Hawley said the Federal Trade Commission under former President Barack Obama "did not take any enforcement action against Google, did not press this forward and has essentially given them a free pass".

Missouri's Hawley said the FTC's inaction created an opening. 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.

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley will hold a press conference Monday, November 13 at 10:30 a.m.to announce a new initiative aimed at a major tech company.

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. The business reviews' website wrote the FTC and the attorney generals of all 50 states in September that Google has copied images from its service without permission in violation of a commitment made to the USA antitrust regulator.

"Our own investigation suggests that they may be collecting much more than they are telling consumers and that consumers don't have an option, a meaningful option, to opt-out", Hawley said.

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

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