Hawley to Investigate Google for Alleged Antitrust Violations

Josh Hawley

The attorney general for Missouri, Josh Hawley, on Monday said he has issued an investigative subpoena to Google to determine if it has violated Missouri's main consumer protection law and its antitrust 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".

Google, owned by Alphabet Inc., said it had not yet received the subpoena. But formal investigations have reached varying results in the last seven years.

The Missouri attorney general's office is investigating whether Google has run afoul of consumer protection or antitrust laws in the state.

The Federal Trade Commission has come to rely more heavily on states attorneys general for enforcement. Yelp recently complained to the FTC that Google was continuing to scrape Yelp's content.

He said, however, that Google has "strong privacy protections in place for our users" and that it continues "to operate in a highly competitive and dynamic environment".

Asked at the press conference whether his senate candidacy played a role in opening the Google inquiry, Hawley said he acted upon his oath of office and desire "to get to the truth".

Hawley on Monday announced the investigation, which comes on the heels of a $2.7 billion fine issued to the company by the European Union for antitrust violations.

Federal regulators in the US have also investigated Google over antitrust claims.

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