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Google faces antitrust investigation in Missouri

13 November 2017, 09:55 | Melvin Schneider

Missouri Attorney General Launches Probe Into Google's Business Practices

Missouri AG subpoenas Google in antitrust investigation

Missouri's attorney general has launched a broad investigation into whether Google is violating the state's consumer-protection and antitrust laws, a new front in the internet giant's regulatory battles.

Federal regulators in the US also have investigated the company over antitrust claims, but Google settled with the Federal Trade Commission in 2013 without making any major concessions on how the company runs its internet search engine.

The state's attorney general announced Monday he has opened an investigation into whether Alphabet's Google manipulated search results to benefit its own products over those of its competitors.

"Through this extensive cross-platform data collection, Google can construct highly detailed profiles of users and their online activity", Hawley says in a fact sheet issued Monday.

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Google has largely steered clear of antitrust problems in the U.S. That's not the case in Europe, where the company faces a fine of about $2.7 billion over the display of its shopping ads. 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.

Republican Atty. Gen. Josh Hawley, who also is running for Democratic Sen. The attorneys general of Utah and the District raised a flag previous 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.

He noted that Google entered into an agreement with the FTC in 2012 in which it promised not to engage in misappropriation of competitors' websites data. However, lawmakers in the past year have become increasingly skeptical of and at times antagonistic toward the tech industry.

"Frankly, the FTC - the Obama-era FTC - did not take any enforcement actions against Google. and has essentially given them a free pass", he said.



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