Google, U.S. government tangle over pre-trial document production

FILE PHOTO: The Google sign is shown on one of the company’s office buildings in Irvine, California

Tue, 30 March 2021, 7:30 pm

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Lawyers for Alphabet’s Google and the government tangled on Tuesday over how many documents related to the Justice Department’s antitrust lawsuit against the search and advertising giant should be turned over, and how fast.

In a status conference before Judge Amit Mehta of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the Justice Department’s Kenneth Dintzer said Google had balked at delivering some older documents, dating to the early 2000s. He also said that third parties, which could include Microsoft and Apple, had delayed responding to government subpoenas until they got a subpoena from Google – which slowed that process down.

“Broadly speaking, it’s going slowly,” he said.

For Google’s part, John Schmidtlein, who argued for the company, said they would send some subpoenas to third parties this week and next.

He also said that Google had produced some 250,000 documents, the equivalent of 1.4 million pages, and that another 200,000 were being prepared for delivery to the government.

Judge Mehta told the two sides that if they had specific disagreements, he could jump in but they needed to resolve the larger issues.

The Justice Department has been pushing Google to produce documents on a long list of topics related to its lawsuit, which accuses the company of breaking antitrust law in its search and search advertising businesses.

The Justice Department’s lawsuit was filed in October. A state antitrust case, which was filed in December, also accused Google of seeking to extend its dominance to devices like speakers, televisions and even smart cars. The two have been combined for pre-trial matters.

The federal case is expected to go to trial in September 2023.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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