Missouri AG subpoenas Google in antitrust investigation

Hawley's office says U.S. regulators were wrong not to pursue legal action over potential antitrust violations

Google's facing another investigation into its business practices.

The probe comes after European regulators investigated significant aspects of Google's business and as Washington is taking a harder look into the influence of dominant tech companies in American society.

Missouri's attorney general said Monday his office would investigate whether Alphabet Inc's Google violated the state's consumer protection and antitrust laws.

The Kansas City Star first reported on the investigation. Missouri's Hawley said the FTC's inaction created an opening.

Google spokesman Patrick Lenihan in a Monday statement said the company has "strong privacy protections in place" and operates in a "highly competitive" environment.

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In June, the European Union issued Google a record $2.7 billion antitrust fine. In Washington, tech companies face the possibility of new, sweeping regulations that would implicate key areas of their businesses, including requirements to disclose information about online advertising and obligations to better police user-generated content. But the Federal Trade Commission settled with Google in 2013 and said it didn't find any reasons to impose radical changes on how the company runs its Internet search engine. Attorney generals of 37 states reached a $7 million settlement in 2013 over Google's unauthorized collection of Wi-Fi data through its Street View digital-mapping cars.

He says the company hasn't yet received an investigative subpoena issued by Hawley's office. However, lawmakers in the past year have become increasingly skeptical of and at times antagonistic toward the tech industry.

He noted that Google entered into an agreement with the FTC in 2012 in which it promised not to engage in misappropriation of competitors' websites data.

Republican Atty. Gen. Josh Hawley, who also is running for Democratic Sen.

"Frankly, the FTC - the Obama-era FTC - did not take any enforcement actions against Google. and has essentially given them a free pass", he said.

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