Apple, AT&T ask for tough protection for data in Google lawsuit

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Google is seen in Davos, Switzerland Januar 20, 2020. Picture taken January 20, 2020. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Apple Inc and AT&T asked the judge hearing the Justice Department’s lawsuit against Alphabet’s Google on Friday to allow them to designate certain data in the complaint “highly confidential,” to ensure that no-one from Google could see it.

The Justice Department, which sued the search and advertising giant in October, put at the core of its antitrust case the billions of dollars that Google paid to be the default search engine on Apple’s iPhones, and Apple noted in its filing that sensitive data was used to write the complaint.

The government is accusing Google of illegally using its market muscle to hobble rivals in a lawsuit that is the biggest challenge to the power and influence of Big Tech in decades.

Google had offered to ensure that any confidential information would be made available solely to two in-house attorneys at the offices of Google’s outside counsel or in another secure manner, adding that it would promptly report any disclosure.

Apple, AT&T, Microsoft Corp, Amazon.com Inc and others which assisted the government have until Friday to inform Judge Amit Mehta of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia how they wanted data to be protected.

Mehta said this week that the trial could last for months.

Apple asked that only Google’s outside counsel be allowed to see any highly confidential data and not any in-house lawyers.

AT&T said in its filing that it would designate as “highly confidential” such documents as those which describe how their offerings in the market might be vulnerable to Google.

Apple said that it had already given the government data on its relationship with Google, and expected to be asked for more, including potentially the terms of deals that Apple struck with other search engines and Apple’s internal deliberations around negotiating the deals.

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