Google's facing another investigation into its business practices. But as Google and other tech companies like Amazon and Facebook continue to become more powerful, some US politicians and academics are posing questions more forcefully about whether antitrust laws should be changed or brought to bear in a new way against the tech giants.
The Kansas City Star first reported on the investigation. Hawley said that his preliminary investigation suggests that Google may not be accurately disclosing how much data it collects about customers and that people don't have a meaningful choice to opt out of Google's data collection. "However, we have strong privacy protections in place for our users and continue to operate in a highly competitive and dynamic environment", spokesperson Andrea Faville said in a statement.
Hawley on Monday announced the investigation, which comes on the heels of a $2.7 billion fine issued to the company by the European Union for antitrust violations.
With heightened concerns on Capitol Hill from both Democrats and Republicans, Silicon Valley is navigating a political reckoning of sorts. Attorney generals of 37 states reached a $7 million settlement in 2013 over Google's unauthorized collection of Wi-Fi data through its Street View digital-mapping cars.
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He noted that Google entered into an agreement with the FTC in 2012 in which it promised not to engage in misappropriation of competitors' websites data.
Hawley - a Republican who is running for the GOP Senate nomination to challenge sitting Democratic Sen.
"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.
Lastly, Hawley's office is investigating whether Google has manipulated search results to favor websites owned by Google and to demote websites that compete with Google.