We’re used to hearing about Google's antitrust violation charges in Europe, but the search giant is now facing similar accusations in its home country. Missouri’s attorney general, Josh Hawley, has issued a subpoena to Google as part of an investigation into whether the company broke state consumer protection and antitrust laws.
Hawley is trying to determine if Google violated the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act—Missouri’s principal consumer-protection statute—and other state antitrust laws.
The business practices being put under a microscope include “Google’s collection, use, and disclosure of information about Google users and their online activities; Google’s alleged misappropriation of online content from the websites of its competitors; and Google’s alleged manipulation of search results to preference websites owned by Google and to demote websites that compete with Google.”
The investigation has parallels with the EU’s long-running investigation into Google. In June, the commission ruled that the company abused its dominant market position by promoting its own shopping comparison service at the top of search results while demoting rivals. As a result, Google was hit with a record $2.7 billion fine in June, almost doubling the previous $1.45 billion record fine the EU imposed in 2009 on Intel, which was also charged with engaging in anticompetitive practices.
“There is strong reason to believe that Google has not been acting with the best interest of Missourians in mind,” said Hawley, who is running for the US Senate in 2018. “My Office will not stand by and let private consumer information be jeopardized by industry giants, especially to pad their profits.”
“When a company has access to as much consumer information as Google does, it’s my duty to ensure they are using it appropriately. I will not let Missouri consumers and businesses be exploited by industry giants.”
Google said it has yet to receive the subpoena. "However, we have strong privacy protections in place for our users and continue to operate in a highly competitive and dynamic environment," said company spokesman Patrick Lenihan.