JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri’s attorney general is investigating Google for potential violations of the state’s consumer-protection and antitrust laws, his office said Monday.
Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley — who also is running for Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill’s seat in 2018 — issued a subpoena to the tech giant to gather information, according to a release provided by his office to The Associated Press.
Various other states have previously investigated Google for alleged abuses of its power or other potential legal violations but none made any definitive conclusions. While antitrust claims against the company have been largely unsuccessful in the U.S., Google has been penalized for a variety of privacy violations.
Hawley’s office is checking into what Google does with the user information it collects and allegations that it inappropriately scrapes information from competitors’ websites. The office also is looking into claims that the company manipulates search results to favor its own websites over competitors’, which has been the subject of recent scrutiny in Europe.
The Missouri investigation comes on the heels of a $2.7 billion antitrust fine issued to the tech giant by the European Union in June for unfairly featuring its own shopping services in its influential search results.
Federal regulators in the U.S. also have investigated the company over antitrust claims, but Google settled with the Federal Trade Commission in 2013 without making any major concessions on how the company runs its internet search engine. Federal regulators didn’t find any reasons to impose radical changes.
Hawley’s office now argues federal regulators were wrong not to sue Google and that inaction left an opening for a potential state suit.
“I will not let Missouri consumers and businesses be exploited by industry giants,” Hawley said in a statement.
Hawley’s office said Missouri’s strong consumer-protection laws could help with a potential lawsuit over user data.