Missouri AG investigating Google's business practices

By Allen Cone  |  Nov. 13, 2017 at 2:38 PM
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Nov. 13 (UPI) -- Missouri's attorney general announced Monday a broad investigation into Google's business practices, including whether the company violated the state's consumer protection and antitrust laws.

State Attorney General Josh Hawley said in a statement that he issued an investigative subpoena against the tech giant.

"There is strong reason to believe that Google has not been acting with the best interest of Missourians in mind," Hawley said. "My office will not stand by and let private consumer information be jeopardized by industry giants, especially to pad their profits."

In June, the European Union issued Google a record $2.7 billion antitrust fine. One month later, the Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission regarding a Google program that tracks consumer behavior.

"We're concerned they're engaged in a similar pattern of behavior in the United States," he told reporters.

Google, which has challenged the European regulators' fine, didn't immediately comment.

In September, Yelp wrote a letter to the Federal Trade Commission that Google had violated a 2012 settlement by allegedly scraping photos from online reviews for its own search results. It reported 385,888 images of local businesses posted by Yelp users had appeared in Google's local search results, a direct violation of the settlement.

Hawley noted Google has access to an estimated 70 percent of all card transactions in the United States, as well as online users' location, device information, cookie data, online queries and website history.

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

Google rolled out its Google Fiber broadband service in the Kansas City area in 2012.

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