Missouri attorney general launches antitrust investigation into Google

"This misappropriation hurts business and it threatens to drive Google's competitors out of the market".

The attorney general's office of Missouri has announced it's investigating whether Google broke the state's consumer protection and antitrust laws.

"We are looking at allegations that Google has lifted information from competitors' own sites", Missouri attorney general Josh Hawley said in a press conference broadcast on his Facebook page. "However, we have strong privacy protections in place for our users and continue to operate in a highly competitive and dynamic environment", said company spokesman Patrick Lenihan.

Mr Hawley issued a subpoena requiring Google to cooperate with the probe.

This will be the first time since 2013, that Google has faced an investigation on home soil.

"There is strong reason to believe that Google has not been acting with the best interest of Missourians in mind", Hawley, who is running for Democratic U.S. Sen. A Federal Trade Commission inquiry also prompted Google that year to agree to provide advertisers and patent licensees more flexible terms.

He pointed to the European Union fining Google $2.7 billion in June for unfairly favoring links to its own shopping service over those from other e-commerce websites. He said "substantial evidence" suggests the company might manipulate search results to list Google-affiliated websites higher in 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.

In addition to online users' location, device information, cookie data, online queries, and website history, Hawley said it is estimated that Google has access to 70% of all card transactions in the United States. "I will not let Missouri consumers and businesses be exploited by industry giants".