Monday, 20 November, 2017

Missouri starts investigating Google's business practices

Nellie Chapman | 13 November, 2017, 22:55

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley will hold a press conference Monday, November 13 at 10:30 a.m.to announce a new initiative aimed at a major tech company.

Google is defending itself after Missouri's attorney general launched an investigation of the company for potential violations of the state's antitrust and consumer-protection laws.

Hawley also argues that Google may "manipulate the results of its search engine" to favor its own services, even if its algorithms "might otherwise indicate that the websites are less relevant to a user's search than are competitors' websites".

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

Hawley said that to his knowledge, no other states have opened comparable investigations into Google. It has disputed European regulators' charges. Hawley said that his preliminary investigation suggests that Google may not be accurately disclosing how much data it collects about customers and that people don't have a meaningful choice to opt out of Google's data collection.

"There is strong reason to believe that Google has not been acting with the best interest of Missourians in mind", Hawley said. "Google leverages this user information as part of its highly profitable online advertising business, and it also may sell certain user information to third parties". The attorneys general of Utah and the District raised a flag a year ago, urging the Federal Trade Commission to reopen its investigation into Google's search practices, although the agency has not said it would do so.

The Federal Trade Commission has come to rely more heavily on states attorneys general for enforcement.

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.