Missouri AG investigating Google for antitrust violations

Josh Hawley

Josh Hawley

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.

Also of interest to Hawley's investigation is the roughly 70 percent of all card transaction information that Google collects. In a statement, Hawley said he also hopes to glean whether the practice. "We want to make sure that Google is not misappropriating it, that they are informing consumers about what they are collecting, that they are using the personal data that they do collect in a lawful manner and that consumers have the option to opt out of any collection that may violate their privacy".

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

The FTC, though, did not bring the stronger antitrust charges that Google rivals such as Microsoft Corp. and Yelp Inc. sought.

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Asked at the press conference whether his senate candidacy played a role in opening the Google inquiry, Hawley said he acted upon his oath of office and desire "to get to the truth".

Hawley's office said Missouri's strong consumer-protection laws could help with a potential lawsuit over user data.

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In the announcement, Hawley's office emphasized the historic $2.7 billion in fines leveled by the European Union against Google for its anti-trust practices and a complaint filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center with the Federal Trade Commission on Google's consumer tracking practices. Hawley said he was moved to act because of concern that Google is engaging in similar behavior domestically.

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