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State AG launches antitrust investigation into Google practices

(BUSINESS NEWS) Google’s business practices are the subject of yet another anti-trust investigation, this time at a state level.

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The Missouri Attorney General’s Office thinks that Google is breaking state consumer protection and antitrust laws, and has issued a subpoena to gather documents and other information for its investigation.

Attorney General Josh Hawley, who will run for U.S. Senate next year as a Republican, says that “There is a strong reason to believe that Google has not been acting with the best interest of Missourians in mind.”

His office accuses Google of violating the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act, as well as other state antitrust laws.

Hawley’s complaints against Google include the ways in which the tech company collects and uses user information, including details of their credit card transactions.

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“When a company has access to as much consumer information as Google does,” Hawley said in a statement, “it’s my duty to ensure they are using it appropriately. I will not let Missouri consumers and businesses be exploited by industry giants.”

Hawley also believes that Google violates antitrust laws by preferentially listing websites owned by Google over competitors’ sites in search results. For this practice, Google was recently fined $2.7 billion by the European Union.

There are further accusations that Google has “lifted information from competitors’ websites to use on Google’s own sites and Google products.”

Google, and other tech companies, have been under heat recently from the U.S. government. Google, Facebook, and Twitter were recently grilled in a Senate hearing over Russian-funded propaganda on social media sites in the run-up to last year’s election.

In July, the Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission over new technology that Google is using to match users’ ad clicks with in-store purchases.

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Hawley says that during the Obama administration, the FTC gave Google a “free pass,” but that he “will not stand by and let private consumer information be jeopardized by industry giants, especially to pad their profits.”

Ellen Vessels, a Staff Writer at The American Genius, is respected for their wide range of work, with a focus on generational marketing and business trends. Ellen is also a performance artist when not writing, and has a passion for sustainability, social justice, and the arts.

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