Published: Mon, November 13, 2017
Business | By Max Garcia

Missouri is taking page from Europe and investigating Google

The simmering debate over whether big internet companies are breaking antitrust rules to extend their dominance has a new front - Missouri.

Missouri's attorney general said Monday that he has launched an investigation into whether Google has mishandled private customer data and manipulated its search results to favor its own products and stifle competitors. Yelp said in the letter that Google has been violating commitments it made after the U.S. Federal Trade Commission closed an investigation into the search engine's practices in 2013.

He says the company hasn't yet received an investigative subpoena issued by Hawley's office.

Hawley also argues that Google may "manipulate the results of its search engine" to favor its own services, even if its algorithms "might otherwise indicate that the websites are less relevant to a user's search than are competitors' websites".

Hawley said that to his knowledge, no other states have opened comparable investigations into Google.

The Missouri attorney general's office is investigating whether Google has run afoul of consumer protection or antitrust laws in the state.

Hawley says he plans to examine several issues, including whether Google's privacy policy adequately discloses its data-mining practices.

While Missouri's move is the first state initiative since Washington took notice this fall, it is not the first time that a state's top law enforcement officer has put scrutiny at Google.

The idea that Google was unfairly suppressing search results for its competitors got scant traction in the USA after the FTC concluded in 2013 that the company wasn't trying to stifle competition.

News 4 will continue to update this story throughout the day as more details become available.

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. The European Union is also investigating Google over its Android mobile platform and its AdSense for Search service.

Hawley - a Republican who is running for the GOP Senate nomination to challenge sitting Democratic Sen.

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