Sen. Josh Hawley lambasted Google on Friday for reportedly stonewalling state attorneys general as they attempt to investigate the company for supposedly engaging in anticompetitive practices.
Google is dusting off a familiar playbook, Hawley told The Wall Street Journal in response to a report Friday that the company is resisting attorneys general requests for information as they investigate big tech. He spearheaded an antitrust probe targeting Google as Missouri’s attorney general back in 2017.
“First they said they weren’t subject to Missouri’s antitrust and consumer-protection laws,” Hawley said. “Then they refused to turn over documents and information. Then they didn’t turn over what they said they would.”
He added: “It’s the Google playbook — stall, stonewall, deflect and deny, because they are afraid the public will finally get the truth.” (RELATED: Conservatives Weigh In On Sen. Hawley’s Newest Idea To Help Regulators Rein In Silicon Valley)
Google is not providing state investigators access to a slate of information and documents that the Department of Justice obtained from the company, TheWSJ reported, citing a record review. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton led a coalition of 50 attorneys general in an antitrust probe into Google.
The company is concerned that Paxton is employing outside business consultants who could potentially provide confidential information to the tech behemoth’s biggest rivals, a Google spokeswoman said, according to TheWSJ.
“[W]e’re also concerned with the irregular way this investigation is proceeding, including unusual arrangements with advisers who work with our competitors and vocal complainants,” the spokeswoman said after noting that company has already provided “over 100,000 pages of information.”
Investigators are seeking emails and correspondence from high-level executives and Google employees who could provide insight into the company’s practices, TheWSJ noted, citing information the outlet gleaned from public information requests. Google is not without its critics.
Hawley, for his part, has been a thorn in the company’s proverbial side since before he was senator. He announced an antitrust probe into Google in 2017, arguing that the Silicon Valley company maintains a lopsided amount of control over Missourians’ privacy data. The Missouri Republican has not relented since joining Congress.
In 2019, Hawley proposed a bill amending Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a law passed in 1996 that protects the likes of Google from being sued for the content users post on their platform. Tech companies enjoy a “sweetheart deal that no other industry enjoys: complete exemption from traditional publisher liability,” Hawley said in a statement announcing the bill.
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