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Google Messing With Texas, and Everyone Else

Google is yet again stonewalling law enforcement and government officials who are asking for more information about serious allegations that its business practices violate antitrust and consumer protection laws.

In June, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott sued Google in state court for withholding 14,500 documents needed for the state’s antitrust investigation. Despite that suit and previous subpoenas, the search giant continues to refuse to hand over the documents.

According to AllThingsD, Google made a legal filing yesterday citing attorney-client privilege as the reason why “Google is now simply refusing to turn them over.”

Just two years ago, Google pledged to cooperate with the investigation.

“We’re looking forward to working cooperatively with the Texas Attorney General’s office, and we strongly believe our business practices reflect our commitment to build great products for the benefit of users everywhere,” Google Deputy General Counsel Don Harrison wrote in a blog post.

Google’s pattern is to pledge cooperation and then disregard that promise. In just the last two weeks, we learned:

  • Google did not live up to its promise to delete all the personal data its Street View cars collected in Britain and other countries in 2010. At that time, the company said it would erase the personal data its cars collected from unsecure Wi-Fi networks as they amassed images for Street View.
  • The Federal Trade Commission is reportedly close to issuing Google a $22.5 million fine – the agency’s largest ever – for bypassing the privacy settings of users running Apple’s Safari Web browser. Last year, the company signed a consent decree with the FTC to not mislead users on privacy for 20 years.

It’s time for Google to stop making empty promises and start living up to its legal obligations in the U.S., EU and other jurisdictions where it operates. Until it does, Google simply cannot be taken at its word that the company will ‘do no evil.’