Two years ago Texas filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google, claiming the search engine does not engage in neutral search. Google stated at that time that it was more than willing to cooperate with the Attorney General’s office from Texas and explain how the search ranking from Google works in an effort to alleviate any concerns.
Obviously any communication from the two sides since the original lawsuit was filed has been ineffective because Texas has taken their investigation to a new level. Apparently Google has not been cooperated in as open a manner as Texas would prefer because Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott recently initiated a court order in an attempt to coerce Google to turn over documentation it has continued to withhold during the investigation.
The issue with the documents the Texas Attorney General wants is the insistence by Google that those documents fall under the protection of attorney-client privilege. Attorney General Abbott filed the suit on June 18, claiming that “while Google has produced a significant volume of documents in response to the CIDs, Google has withheld a large volume of documents based on assertion of the attorney-client privilege and has claimed that certain documents that were produced are, in fact, privileged, and should be destroyed or returned to Google.”
Google maintains its position that it has already surrendered hundreds of thousands of documents to the Texas Attorney General’s office. Google also states that it will continue to answer questions regarding its search practices with any regulator that needs more information.
The reason Texas felt Google did not engage in neutral search dating back to 2010 was the belief of the state that search results were manipulated in a manner that had a negative effect on local businesses, shopping and travel searches. This recent suit is not the first time Texas has requested more documentation from Google as the state filed a similar lawsuit February 2011. This should continue to be an interesting story for months to come!