Texas Wants Google to Spill Its Secrets–Here's the List
The antitrust investigation Google is facing in Texas is quite a bit broader than originally thought. A civil investigative demand sent last July by the office of Attorney General Greg Abbott, and first reported by Bloomberg, reveals an inquiry not just into ad pricing, but site ranking and “the manual overriding or altering of” search results as well.
The 13-page CID includes 39 different requests for documents ranging from those setting forth Google’s policies and procedures for calculating AdWords prices and minimum bids to minutes and agendas from search quality team meetings and records of the “black listing” or “white listing” of specific Web sites. Also requested: Documents that “describe, analyze, or discuss competition for advertisers from Bing and Yahoo” and others concerning the strategy for e-commerce services like Froogle and Google Shopping.
It’s an extraordinarily thorough set of demands and shows the Texas AG to be reviewing not just Google’s ranking of search results and setting of advertising prices, but questioning whether the company favors its own businesses and advertisers in results. Has Google complied with them? That’s not yet clear, though company spokesman Adam Kovacevich says discussions with Abbott’s office continue.
“Since we started Google we have worked hard to do the right thing by our users and our industry, and while there’s always going to be room for improvement, we’re committed to competing fair and square,” he said. “We’re continuing to work with the Texas attorney general’s office to answer their questions and understand any concerns.”