Google accused of withholding evidence

Posted by Emma Woollacott

The Texas attorney general is accusing Google of unreasonably withholding thousands of documents in an anti-trust investigation into its search policies.

Texas is one of several states which, along with the EU and the Federal Trade Commission, are examining whether the company has been manipulating its search results to favor its own sites. The Texas suit focuses on shopping sites, local businesses and travel sites.

But, in a court filing, Texas attorney general Greg Abbott accuses the company of failing to hand over more than 14,500 documents which the state had requested.

Google's argument is that the documents in question are protected by attorney-client privilege - indeed, it claims, certain documents that it did produce are actually privileged, and should be destroyed or returned.

Nonsense, says Abbott: "Google has not met its burden of demonstrating that the privilege is applicable to many of the documents in question," reads the petition.

Meanwhile, the EU investigation into similar allegations may be nearing its end.

"Speed is of the essence in the resolution of cases in fast moving markets. Normal antitrust procedures may take years," said European competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia yesterday.

"We are currently negotiating a settlement solution in our investigation of the e-books market and have offered Google the opportunity to take that route."