Missouri Investigates Google in Antitrust Case

The attorney general of Missouri has issued an investigative subpoena against Google, alleging that the company has violated the state’s antitrust laws.

Google is owned by Alphabet Inc. and is one of the leading technological companies in the world, most known for its search engine, as well as mobile software and online advertising.

Josh Hawley made the announcement at a press conference on Monday, November 13, 2017. Among his stated concerns about the popular tech giant are questions about the accuracy of its privacy policy, as well as claims that it has illegally copied content from its rivals and that it purposefully buries their websites in its search results.

Andrea Faville, a spokeswoman for Google, said in a statement that they have not yet received the subpoena, but that “we have strong privacy protections in place for our users and continue to operate in a highly competitive and dynamic environment.”

These accusations are similar to other claims made against Google, both within and outside of the United States.

In 2013, Google reached a $7 billion settlement with the attorneys general of 37 states because it was using its Street View feature, meant to show users a panoramic of various streets around the world, to collect wi-fi data in an authorized manner. That same year, the Federal Trade Commission also prompted the company to provide more flexible terms to patent licensees and advertisers.

In June of this year, Google was also fined $2.7 billion by the European Union, on the grounds that it was illegally promoting links to its own shopping site over those of other online companies. Google is currently appealing that decision, but Hawley said that he is concerned that they may be doing the same thing within the United States.

Yelp Inc., a rival of Google that runs a business review site, has also accused Google of making unauthorized copies of its images, despite an agreement with American antitrust officials.

Yelp, along with Microsoft Corp., has pushed for Google to face antitrust charges in the past. Attorneys general in Ohio, Mississippi and Texas have tried to pursue inquiries but had little success.

At the press conference, Hawley, a Republican, denied claims that opening this case has to do with his bid to replace Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill in next year’s election, saying that he is acting on his currently role “to get to the truth” about these issues.

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