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Missouri AG subpoenas Google in antitrust investigation

Missouri AG subpoenas Google in antitrust investigation

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

The Kansas City Star reported on Monday that Attorney General Josh Hawley has issued subpoenas to Google as part of the investigation.

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.

Hawley's investigation also aims to learn if the company is breaking the law by leveraging what he calls Google's "near-monopoly" power in the search engine market to stifle competition.

Google spokesman Patrick Lenihan said in a statement that the company has not yet received the subpoena. But formal investigations have reached varying results in the last seven years.

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The Federal Trade Commission has come to rely more heavily on states attorneys general for enforcement.

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

"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. Google has said it provides consumers with the option to control their privacy settings and does not provide third parties with personally identifiable information like names, email addresses and billing information.

"We're concerned they're engaged in a similar pattern of behavior in the United States", he told reporters.

Google has already landed on the bad side of European Union antitrust regulators, receiving a €2.4B fine in June for shopping search practices and facing another fine over its AdSense network.

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