Google responds to Missouri investigation

Google CEO Sundar Pichai takes the stage during the presentation of new Google hardware in San Francisco on Oct. 4 2016

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

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley announced on Monday that he's launching an investigation into Google's business practices, citing concerns the internet giant may be violating the state's principal consumer-protection statute or its antitrust laws. "This misappropriation hurts business and it threatens to drive Google's competitors out of the market".

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".

Missouri's Hawley said the FTC's inaction created an opening.

In a statement, Google spokesperson Patrick Lenihan, said, "We have not yet received the subpoena, however, we have strong privacy protections in place for our users and continue to operate in a highly competitive and dynamic environment".

Missouri's attorney general says his office will investigate Google for potential violations of the state's antitrust and consumer-protection laws. The attorneys general of Utah and the District raised a flag past year, urging the Federal Trade Commission to reopen its investigation into Google's search practices, although the agency has not said it would do so. However, lawmakers in the past year have become increasingly skeptical of and at times antagonistic toward the tech industry. Claire McCaskill's seat in 2018, told reporters that he issued an "investigative subpoena" to the tech giant to gather information.

Hawley, a Republican who is running for the U.S. Senate, has opened his investigation as politicians on both sides of the political spectrum are becoming more critical of large tech companies in the wake of revelations that Russian state agents used social networks to try and influence the 2016 Presidential election.

"Frankly, the FTC - the Obama-era FTC - did not take any enforcement actions against Google. and has essentially given them a free pass", he said.

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