In the Texas antitrust lawsuit against tech giant Google, the Judge has reportedly issued a protective order that restricts the information that the firm’s in-house lawyers can view. According to reports, this move is intended to secure any confidential information that would be used in an upcoming trial.
This order is supposedly very crucial as companies that are yet to be identified have given information to the office of the Attorney General of Texas for the purposes of investigation as part of the lawsuit. These companies had feared that the data could be accessible to Google executives.
Judge Sean Jordan, District Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, issued the protective order that allows the in-house counsel of Google to access information classified as “confidential”. However, the order limits these lawyers in advising the company regarding certain competitive and other decisions for a period of two years.
Moreover, in case of information deemed “highly confidential”, Google’s in-house counsel will need to acquire permission either from the court or the concerned company. The protective order requires people receiving such confidential or highly confidential information to agree, if necessary, to the search of electronic devices they use as part of their work for forensic investigation in case of a potential leak.
The Texas antitrust lawsuit alleges that Google has violated the law by engaging in anti-competitive practices to monopolize the process of putting ads online as part of the program called ‘Project Bernanke’.
The lawsuit accuses the search engine giant of teaming up with Facebook Inc., its closest online advertising rival, under the project to establish a digital-ad monopoly by using the “protection of users’ privacy“ as a cover for its activities. Publishers claim loss of revenue as one consequence of this alleged move by Google.
Google has repeatedly denied any wrongful conduct on its part. The Texas lawsuit is one of the three major antitrust lawsuits that were filed against the Alphabet-owned company in 2020.