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States ask internet search rival for evidence in antitrust probe of Google

Texas’s attorney general has sent the privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo a demand for documents and records as part of a multi-state antitrust probe into anti-competitive behavior by Google.

The legal request — a copy of which was obtained by CNN — was sent to DuckDuckGo earlier this month. It asks DuckDuckGo to reproduce any information it has provided to the Justice Department in connection with the federal agency’s own Google antitrust probe.

The move highlights the broad reach of investigators as 50 attorneys general, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, probe Google’s business for wrongdoing. It underscores how investigators are increasingly seeking testimony from businesses that compete with Google for market share.

In September, Texas kicked off the investigation by sending Google its own civil investigative demand, which CNN also obtained. With more than 200 numbered questions, the demand asked Google to explain its past mergers, its advertising technology and its data collection practices, among other things. A civil investigative demand, or CID, carries the weight of a subpoena.

DuckDuckGo acknowledged the CID it received in a statement to CNN on Wednesday, saying that it intends to cooperate with the investigation of Google.

“We have received a subpoena (CID) as part of the antitrust investigation of Google,” the company said. “While private search is only one of the privacy protection tools we offer, the subpoena concerns our experience competing in the search market, including search syndication contracts and default search deals.”

The company added: “We intend to cooperate with this inquiry as best we can because robust scrutiny promotes healthy competition, greater choice for users, and stronger data privacy practices. Our users should rest assured that no personal information will be shared because we do not collect or store such information in the first place, as explained in our privacy policy.”

DuckDuckGo had previously confirmed receiving a CID from the Justice Department.

Paxton’s office declined to comment.

CNN

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