Staff Writer: Greta Frusha
Marketing companies Los Angeles watch while Texas Attorney General calls out search engine giant Google, saying that Google is withholding documents from the state. Originally, it began as an antitrust lawsuit two years ago; now it has expanded into an investigation. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is seeking a court order to make Google hand over documentation that isn’t subject to the attorney-client privilege. Apparently Google has produced a massive amount of documents, but it’s kept back a large amount claiming that those documents fall under the attorney-client privilege, and that certain documents that were produced are also privileged and should be destroyed or returned.
Abbott agrees that some documents are protected. He wants to see the many others that aren’t protected. A Google spokesperson states that “We have shared hundreds of thousands of documents with the Texas attorney general, and we are happy to answer any questions that regulators have about our business.”
The antitrust lawsuit, brought against Google by Texas in 2010, claimed that the company manipulated search results in the areas of shopping, travel, and local businesses. A spokesperson for Texas said that “The Attorney General’s Office is investigating whether Google has used its monopoly power in general Internet search to foreclose competition from rival ‘vertical search’ websites.”
Abbot wants to know how Google determines the prices for its AdWords paid search advertising program along with how sites are ranked in Google’s search results. A year ago, Abbot issued a civil investigative demand asking for a list of information to be provided to the office of the Texas Attorney General. Complaints from Foundem, Sourcetool/TradeComet, and myTriggers started this ball rolling.
Marketing agencies Los Angeles have definitely been paying attention to these events. At the time the complaints were made, Google said that its main focus was on providing the most relevant search results and ads for its users. Google was quick to point out that since not every site could be on top of results or even appear on the first page of Google results that it’s “unsurprising that some less relevant, lower quality websites will be unhappy with their ranking.”
According to an Associated Press article, Texas isn’t the only state examining Google. Six other states are looking into whether Google manipulates its internet search engine’s “influential recommendations to stifle competition and drive up online advertising prices.” The Federal Trade Commission, along with European regulators, is conducting their own investigations on the same issues.
Marketing companies Los Angeles will keep watching to see what will happen next. Google’s prices on shares have fallen along with stock that’s been lagging behind the rest of the market for over 14 months. Google has been using PR tactics to present itself as a good law abiding corporate citizen to sway the public away from the derogatory publicity this has generated.
Abbott has requested that a Travis county, Texas court judge review a sampling of documents that Google is trying to claim under the attorney client privilege clause to determine if the documents do fall into this category. Marketing agencies Los Angeles will no doubt be affected by this outcome, as will others all over the country, so keeping a close watch on the situation is imperative.