US state launches probe of Google’s business practices
CALIFORNIA: Google was facing a broad investigation into its business practices Monday, with American officials planning to examine how the internet giant handles user data and offers up search results.
Attorney General Josh Hawley of the state of Missouri issued an investigative subpoena to determine whether the company’s actions violated state antitrust and consumer protection laws.
The subpoena seeks information about Google’s use of the vast trove of data it collects, including information harvested from devices, online queries and credit card transactions.
The investigation is the latest probe of the search giant, with European regulators pursuing multiple investigations.
The European Union in June issued a $2.7 billion (2.4 billion euro) antitrust fine, which Google has appealed, for unfairly highlighting its own shopping service in search results.
“There is a strong reason to believe that has not been acting in the best interest of Missourians in mind,” said Hawley, a Republican running for a US Senate seat in 2018.
National regulators last probed Google in 2013, when the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reached a settlement with the internet company. Google agreed to change some business practices the FTC said were stifling competition in certain markets.
A Google spokesman said that the company had not yet received Missouri’s subpoena, but that it has “strong privacy protections in place for our users.”
The company operates “in a highly competitive and dynamic environment,” Patrick Lenihan said in an emailed statement.