Hawley to Investigate Google for Alleged Antitrust Violations

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Attorney General Josh Hawley of the state of Missouri issued an investigative subpoena to determine whether the company's actions violated state antitrust and consumer protection laws.

The investigation alleges that Google also dredges information from its competitors' websites, while manipulating search results to preference Google's own websites and demoting the sites of its competitors. Google agreed to change some business practices the FTC said were stifling competition in certain markets.

"We have strong privacy protections in place for our users and continue to operate in a highly competitive and dynamic environment", a Google spokesperson said in a statement.

Asked during the press conference whether his office's Google inquiry has anything to do with the election, Hawley 'said he acted upon his oath of office and desire "to get to the truth"'. As a result, Google was hit with a record $2.7 billion fine in June, nearly doubling the previous $1.45 billion record fine the European Union imposed in 2009 on Intel, which was also charged with engaging in anticompetitive practices.

In Europe, where antitrust law has been wielded much more aggressively, Google was fined 2.4 billion euros (S$3.8 billion) last June for giving its own shopping products more prominent placement in its search results than those of competitors.

Hawley's investigation announcement added that Google has access to an estimated 70% of all card transaction in the US.

In September, Google launched an appeal against the fine.

Hawley said it's important to find out how Google handles sensitive information - especially after large companies like Equifax recently suffered massive data breaches. That's on top of users' location, device information, cookie data, online queries, and website history. "I will not let Missouri consumers and businesses be exploited by industry giants", Hawley said.