Missouri AG investigating Google for antitrust violations

Mae Love
November 13, 2017

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.

Google's facing another investigation into its business practices.

As Missouri's top law enforcement official, Hawley has issued Google an investigative subpoena, requiring the company to hand over documents and information related to his investigation.

Hawley also argues that Google may "manipulate the results of its search engine" to favor its own services, even if its algorithms "might otherwise indicate that the websites are less relevant to a user's search than are competitors' websites".

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The Kansas City Star first reported on the investigation. Hawley said that his preliminary investigation suggests that Google may not be accurately disclosing how much data it collects about customers and that people don't have a meaningful choice to opt out of Google's data collection.

"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.

With heightened concerns on Capitol Hill from both Democrats and Republicans, Silicon Valley is navigating a political reckoning of sorts. Yelp wrote a letter to the Federal Trade Commission in September contending that Google has violated a 2012 settlement by allegedly scraping photos from Yelp reviews for its own search results. He said the agency essentially gave Google a "free pass". However, lawmakers in the past year have become increasingly skeptical of and at times antagonistic toward the tech industry.

Hawley, who is running for Senate, has opened his investigation as politicians on both sides of the political spectrum are becoming more critical of large tech companies in the wake of revelations that Russian state agents used social networks to try and influence the election.

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