Texas Attorney General Investigating Google & Antitrust Issues

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is conducting an investigation into Google’s business practices as they relate to search listings, in particular whether Google is manipulating its paid and editorial results in a way that violates antitrust laws.

We received a tip about the investigation this week, and Google confirmed today that an investigation started in July. The company plans to post to its blog later today about the matter.

According to Google, the Texas Attorney General’s office is seeking more information about allegations that have been levied against Google by:

Why an attorney general based out of Texas is investigating allegations made by non-Texas companies is unclear. According to Google, as long as the companies have customers in Texas, then it can be deemed relevant jurisdiction. But have any Texas consumers complained to the attorney general about these issues? Google said there’s no evidence of that.

As for the Texas AG’s office itself, it had no comment when I asked today about the investigation. Tom Kelley, with the the attorney general’s press office, emailed me:

Our long-standing policy is that we do not acknowledge investigations of any kind.

Now that Google’s acknowledged it, I expect the Texas AG will have more to say — and I’ll update if I hear more.

All the companies named above have one thing in common. They are vertical search engines that allege Google is trying to keep them down because of the potential threat they face.

My view is the arguments are generally absurd. None of these companies are large enough to pose any threat to Google, to the degree it would be compelled to take such stupid action. Moreover, if Google’s going to act to block a competitor, I’d expect it to pick bigger targets — say like Microsoft.

Speaking of Microsoft, it has given support to the Foundem complaint and the myTriggers one. The articles below have more about this:

These articles also give more background on the Foundem and TradeComet cases:

Accusations that Google needs to maintain some type of “search neutrality” aren’t new. Back in 2003, for example, BBC journalist Bill Thompson asked if the UK should establish an office to regulate search engines — “Ofsearch” — as he called it.

Google’s only grown more powerful since then, but despite this, has generally not operated in an anti-competitive manner, from my perspective. But its greater power has pulled further attention and worries. Recently, even the New York Times suggested it needed regulation.

My piece from July, The New York Times Algorithm & Why It Needs Government Regulation, covers this along with more dissecting of the search neutrality arguments from me. I was also recently interviewed on the topic of search neutrality for the Suprisingly Free podcast series, which you can listen to here.

Postscript: Google’s post is now up here.

Related Topics: Channel: Industry | Google: Legal | Top News


About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn


Get all the top search stories emailed daily!  


Other ways to share:

Read before commenting! We welcome constructive comments and allow any that meet our common sense criteria. This means being respectful and polite to others. It means providing helpful information that contributes to a story or discussion. It means leaving links only that substantially add further to a discussion. Comments using foul language, being disrespectful to others or otherwise violating what we believe are common sense standards of discussion will be deleted. Comments may also be removed if they are posted from anonymous accounts. You can read more about our comments policy here.

Comments are closed.

Get Our News, Everywhere!

Daily Email:

Follow Search Engine Land on Twitter @sengineland Like Search Engine Land on Facebook Follow Search Engine Land on Google+ Get the Search Engine Land Feed Connect with Search Engine Land on LinkedIn Check out our Tumblr! See us on Pinterest


Click to watch SMX conference video

Join us at one of our SMX or MarTech events:

United States


Australia & China

Learn more about: SMX | MarTech

Free Daily Search News Recap!

SearchCap is a once-per-day newsletter update - sign up below and get the news delivered to you!



Search Engine Land Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors

Get Your Copy
Read The Full SEO Guide