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Lawsuits & Litigation

Judge Dismisses Google’s Request to Change Venue in Texas Anti-Trust Lawsuit

— May 26, 2021

Google unsuccessfully argued that any lawsuit against it should be held in California, where its corporate headquarters are located.

The judge overseeing Texas’s anti-trust lawsuit against Google has refused the company’s request to move proceedings to California, where the search giant is facing a number of similar claims.

Google, writes Reuters, had requested a change of venue for several reasons—among them that its headquarters is located in California, as are most of the witnesses they may be able to call if the case moves to trial.

However, Judge Sean Jordan of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas said that Google’s arguments do not provide adequate reason for the court to grant its request.

“Google has failed to meet its burden to establish that the Northern District of California is a clearly more convenient venue for the […] litigation than the Eastern District of Texas,” Jordan wrote.

The lawsuit, notes The Texas Tribune, was filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in late 2020. Over a dozen other states and territories have since lent their support to the anti-trust complaint, which broadly alleges that Google has used its market influence to eradicate any potential competition.

A 2013 image of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Image via Wikimedia Commons/user:Alice Linahan Voices Empower. (CCA-BY-2.0).

“It isn’t fair that Google effectively eliminated its competition and crowned itself the head of online advertising,” Paxton said in December. “Let me put it this way: if the free market were a baseball game, Google positioned itself as the pitcher, the batter, and the umpire.”

According to Paxton and his allies, Google collects an unlawful “tax” from websites that rely on ad sales for revenue.

Beyond that, the lawsuit alleges that Google conspired with Facebook—one of its largest potential rivals—to “manipulate advertising auctions.”

Paxton’s complaint contains a number of other disturbing allegations: Google could, purportedly, view messages from Facebook-owned WhatsApp, after WhatsApp users backed up their chats using Google Drive’s cloud system.

While Google knew that most users were unaware that it had access to their WhatsApp data, the company “did nothing to correct this misunderstanding.”

“Our coalition looks forward to holding Google accountable for its illegal conduct and reforming Google’s practices in the future,” Paxton said in a March 2021 statement. “We are confident Google will be forced to pay for its misconduct through significant financial penalties.”

Texas’s lawsuit, adds the Tribune, followed a wave of investigations and criticism targeting Google, Facebook, and other large technology companies. In October, for instance, the United States Department of Justice filed its own lawsuit against Google, similarly alleging that Google has violated a number of antitrust laws to retain its overwhelming market share.

Google has denied all wrongdoing.


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