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Schmitt Joins State Attorneys General Investigating Google

Attorney General Eric Schmitt announces tougher punishments for people convicted of carjacking on Feb. 25, 2019, in St. Louis.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio
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Attorney General Eric Schmitt announces tougher punishments for people convicted of carjacking on Feb. 25, 2019, in St. Louis.
Attorney General Eric Schmitt, seen here at a press conference in February, is one of 50 attorneys general launching an investigation into Google.
Credit File | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio
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Attorney General Eric Schmitt, seen here at a press conference in February, is one of 50 attorneys general launching an investigation into Google.

This story was updated at 9 p.m. to include a statement from Google. 

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt is one of 50 state attorneys general investigating possible anticompetitive behavior by Google.

The initial focus of the antitrust investigation will look into whether Google is prioritizing search results for companies that pay to advertise with it. Schmitt said that this could be shutting out competitors, especially small businesses, and hurting the free market for consumers. 

“CIDs were issued today to Google, which essentially are, sort of, subpoenas to find out information and to get the facts,” Schmitt said after a press conference Monday in Washington, D.C. “And let the facts lead us where they’re going to lead us and not to prejudge them, but to get as much information as we can about what’s behind the curtain here.”

Other big tech companies, like Facebook, have received similar criticism, but this investigation will only apply to Google for now. 

Schmitt said he was unsure how long the investigation will last, but expects it “to take some time.” 

Former Missouri Attorney General and now U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley launched his own investigation into possible misuse of user data by Google and Facebook in 2017. In a statement, he said he was “heartened” to see a new group of attorneys general looking into big tech companies like Google. 

In an email, the Google communications team sent a statement from Kent Walker, chief legal officer at Google. The statement reads, in part: "We have answered many questions on these issues over many years, in the United States as well as overseas, across many aspects of our business, so this is not new for us. The DOJ has asked us to provide information about these past investigations, and we expect state attorneys general will ask similar questions. We have always worked constructively with regulators and we will continue to do so."

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Jaclyn Driscoll is the Jefferson City statehouse reporter for St. Louis Public Radio. She joined the politics team in 2019 after spending two years at the Springfield, Illinois NPR affiliate. Jaclyn covered a variety of issues at the statehouse for all of Illinois' public radio stations, but focused primarily on public health and agriculture related policy. Before joining public radio, Jaclyn reported for a couple television stations in Illinois and Iowa as a general assignment reporter.