DOJ yanks Google antitrust trial documents from public website after Big Tech firm complains

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By Dan Sears

The Justice Department has pulled a trove of documents related to Google’s landmark antitrust trial offline as of Wednesday after the Big Tech firm logged a complaint to the court.

Throughout the opening week of the trial, the DOJ’s antitrust team had been publishing trial exhibits, including emails, charts and other internal documents, that had been entered as evidence onto a publicly accessible website.

The dispute first emerged during Tuesday’s proceedings after Google took issue with a particular document that had been included as a trial exhibit, Bloomberg reported.

As Bloomberg’s Leah Nylen noted, the removal of the documents has further hampered public visibility of what is considered the most consequential antitrust trial in more than 20 years.

The trial has shut out public access on several occasions while discussing confidential internal company information.

The DOJ had submitted notes written by Google’s vice president of finance Michael Roszak, who reportedly claimed during a July 2017 training session that the company was “able to ignore demand and focus on supply.”

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Google
Google objected to the DOJ posting certain documents online.
REUTERS

Google immediately challenged the document’s submission, arguing it should not be published online.

“Just so we understand what’s at stake here, every document they push into evidence they post on their website, and it gets picked up far and wide,” Google attorney John Schmidtlein. “This isn’t a business record, and it’s totally irrelevant to these proceedings.”

The practice reportedly came as a surprise to Judge Amit Mehta, who is presiding over the case and was unaware that exhibits were being put online.

“That’s something I wish I’d been told,” Mehta said. “I think a judge is told before evidence in the record is actually put on a publicly available website.”

A federal attorney apologized to the judge and the DOJ quickly removed the trial exhibits depending a determination by Mehta on whether they should be published.

The judge also indicated that he “wasn’t necessarily opposed” to the documents being published and that any exhibits put online would enter the public record, according to the Big Tech on Trial newsletter.

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Mehta had pledged to rule by Wednesday, but as of Thursday morning, links on the website were still offline and the court gave no indication as to when the situation will be resolved.


DOJ
DOJ attorneys reportedly apologized to the judge for not stating that they had published documents related to the trial.
AP

The Post has reached out to the DOJ and Google for comment on the situation.

The trial remained in a closed session for much of Wednesday’s proceedings as the court proceeded with Roszak’s testimony.

The feds allege that Google has relied on more than $10 billion in annual payments to smartphone makers like Apple, mobile carriers like Verizon and other partners to maintain an illegal monopoly over online search.

Google has denied wrongdoing and said it offers a high-quality product to lure customers.

This week, the court heard a bombshell admission by Jerry Dischler, Google’s vice president of advertising products, who confirmed that the company would stealthily raise ad prices without telling advertisers in order to hit its revenue goals.

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