Though Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) has managed to stay clear of antitrust issues in the U.S. for the most part, it has had to deal with antitrust challenges in Europe, where it was hit with a $2.7 billion fine by regulators in June of this year.
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But the Missouri Attorney General’s office opened a probe into whether Google’s business practices have violated the state’s consumer protection and antitrust laws.
Josh Hawley, Missouri Attorney General and Senate candidate, told the FOX Business Network’s Neil Cavuto, “I want to know the facts. And here’s the facts that I would like to have. I want to know what kind of personal, private, confidential information that Google collects from its users. And we know, Neil, that they’re collecting this information every time you use Google Search or Google Flights or Google Mail or you name it, any of the Google platforms.”
Hawley says his office also wants to know how the data is being used.
“And then, what are they doing with it? Are they selling it? To whom are they selling it? What sort of data compromises have there been in terms of personal privacy?”
According to Hawley, there are also questions of whether Google is taking information from its competition as well as manipulating its search results.
“I also want to know, are they taking information from competitors and benefiting from that, misappropriating information from competitors and then are they manipulating the results of their searches in order to benefit their own businesses and websites and other affiliated sites.”
Google weighed in on the probe, telling The Wall Street Journal in a statement, "We have not yet received the subpoena, however, we have strong privacy protections in place for our users and continue to operate in a highly competitive and dynamic environment."
Hawley responded to Google’s statement.
“Well, I’ve read their privacy policies and look, they’re very general, they’re very generic and here’s the question, Neil: Do consumers actually know what information Google is collecting from them?” Hawley said on “Cavuto: Coast to Coast.”
When Cavuto asked if other states may join forces with Missouri against Google, Hawley replied, “So far this is just an investigation, I want to emphasize, Neil. What I want are the facts. I want to know exactly what Google is doing and why, and Missouri is the only law enforcement entity that I know of that is conducting this investigation at this time.”