Google Faces Antitrust Investigation in Missouri

Hawley's office says U.S. regulators were wrong not to pursue legal action over potential antitrust violations

Missouri's attorney general is trying to find out if Google has violated the state's antitrust and consumer protection laws.

The Missouri attorney general's office is investigating whether Google has run afoul of consumer protection or antitrust laws in the state. Asked whether his Senate bid influenced his decision to investigate, he said the goal is to "protect the people of Missouri". He expressed concern over the accuracy of the company's privacy policy, allegations it misappropriated content from rivals and claims it demoted competitors' websites in search results. 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 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 US antitrust regulator.

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In the announcement, Hawley's office emphasized the historic $2.7 billion in fines leveled by the European Union against Google for its anti-trust practices and a complaint filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center with the Federal Trade Commission on Google's consumer tracking practices.

He says the company hasn't yet received an investigative subpoena issued by Hawley's office. The FTC sometimes comments on state regulations or coordinates a joint investigation, and state attorneys general can bring federal antitrust suits on behalf of a citizen of their state.

"There is strong reason to believe that Google has not been acting with the best interest of Missourians in mind", Hawley said in the statement.

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