USA state launches probe of Google's business practices

The business practices of Google is being investigated by the Missouri attorney general's office.

Missouri's attorney general has launched a broad investigation into whether Google is violating the state's consumer-protection and antitrust laws, a new front in the internet giant's regulatory battles.

The investigation delves into Google's collection of data on users and whether Google, the world's most popular search engine, has manipulated search results at the expense of competitors, according to a release from Hawley's office.

Google has largely steered clear of antitrust problems in the U.S. That's not the case in Europe, where the company faces a fine of about $2.7 billion over the display of its shopping ads.

We've reached out to Google with a request for comment and will update when we hear back.

In September, Yelp wrote a letter to the Federal Trade Commission that Google had violated a 2012 settlement by allegedly scraping photos from online reviews for its own search results.

Hawley said it's important to find out how Google handles sensitive information - especially after large companies like Equifax recently suffered massive data breaches. And, whether or not Google uses the content of competitors without permission.

Also of interest to Hawley's investigation is the roughly 70 percent of all card transaction information that Google collects.

Google rolled out its Google Fiber broadband service in the Kansas City area in 2012.

Vanessa Coleman

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