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Missouri AG launches Google antitrust probe

13 November 2017

The simmering debate over whether big internet companies are breaking antitrust rules to extend their dominance has a new front - Missouri.

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 says he plans to examine several issues, including whether Google's privacy policy adequately discloses its data-mining practices.

Missouri is examining "Google's collection, use, and disclosure of information about Google users and their online activities; Google's alleged misappropriation of online content from the websites of its competitors; and Google's alleged manipulation of search results to preference websites owned by Google and to demote websites that compete with Google". The investigation will focus on Google's use of data, as well as allegations that it discriminates against competitors in the search results. 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.

The announcement comes two months after Yelp, which has long battled to keep Google from taking over the business of consumer reviews of small businesses, sent a letter complaining about Google to regulators, members of Congress and state attorneys general.

Additionally, Hawley says he plans to investigate allegations that Google wrongly scrapes material from competitors' sites.

News 4 will continue to update this story throughout the day as more details become available.

Google has already landed on the bad side of European Union antitrust regulators, receiving a €2.4B fine in June for shopping search practices and facing another fine over its AdSense network.

Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley, who also is running for Democratic U.S. Sen.