Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley is leading an investigation into whether the web search giant has infringed consumer protection and antitrust rules. What’s more, Peter Thiel, who has been criticizing Google for years, poured $300,000 into Hawley’s campaign war chest.
Thiel is known for his campaign against Gawker, and critics are concerned Google may be next.
On Monday, the AG announced a subpoena on Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc. Hawley is especially concerned about the immense collection of personal info from users stored on Google’s servers.
Hawley wants to know whether Google has ever manipulated search results to give itself an edge over its competitors and gain a monopoly. The latest investigation is the most comprehensive one against Google since the Federal Trade Commission’s probe into competition issues in 2013. That probe was dropped.
Campaign finance filings show that Thiel was one of Hawley’s most prominent donors, with a $100,000 donation in 2015, and two donations of $100,000 each a year later.
Thiel’s Other Controversial Campaigns
In 2016, Thiel’s favorite candidate for attorney general in Missouri won the election. The Republican was sworn in on Jan. 9, 2017. The tech entrepreneur is known for his controversial campaign donations. In 2016, he was a strong backer of Donald Trump.
“When a company has access to as much consumer information as Google does, it’s my duty to ensure they are using it appropriately,”
Hawley told reporters after announcing the subpoena.
The AG thinks Google like other industry giants may be exploiting consumers. Hawley is currently eyeing the Senate seat of Claire McCaskill (D). His office confirmed that he is looking into whether Google has violated anti-trust laws or Missourians’ privacy.
It is not the first time Thiel backs an outsider for his personal vendettas. In 2016, he destroyed the gossip site Gawker by secretly covering Hulk Hogan’s legal expenses in an invasion of privacy case.
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