Missouri Opens Antitrust Investigation Into Google

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Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley's office has issued a subpoena to internet giant Google in connection with an investigation into the company's business practices.

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.

The probe comes after European regulators investigated significant aspects of Google's business and as Washington is taking a harder look into the influence of dominant tech companies in American society. 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.

Hawley said it's important to find out how Google handles sensitive information - especially after large companies like Equifax recently suffered massive data breaches.

Google was not immediately available to comment.

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He said, however, that Google has "strong privacy protections in place for our users" and that it continues "to operate in a highly competitive and dynamic environment".

"Whether that's the Google search engine, Google mail, Google flights, Google shopping - Google is ubiquitous", Hawley said in an interview with St. Louis Public Radio.

In June, the European Union issued Google a record $2.7 billion antitrust fine.

Additionally, Hawley says he plans to investigate allegations that Google wrongly scrapes material from competitors' sites.

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