Missouri AG subpoenas Google in antitrust investigation

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Missouri's attorney general announced Monday a broad investigation into Google's business practices, including whether the company violated the state's consumer protection and antitrust laws.

With the investigation, the state's top lawyer will examine Google's collection, use and disclosure of personal information; its "alleged misappropriation of online content from the websites of its competitors;" and its manipulation of search results to preference "websites owned by Google" and to "demote" websites that compete with Google, according to a statement. He says the company will be held accountable and Missouri is not giving Google a free pass.

"There is strong reason to believe that Google has not been acting with the best interest of Missourians in mind", said Hawley, a Republican running for a US Senate seat in 2018.

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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. He says "substantial evidence" suggests the company might manipulate search results to list Google-affiliated websites higher in search results.

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. He says most people don't realize that Google builds individual user profiles of those who use the company's services.

A Google spokesman said that the company had not yet received Missouri's subpoena, but that it has "strong privacy protections in place for our users".

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