The Justice Department can post exhibits from the US v. Google antitrust trial online once they’ve been shown in court, Judge Amit Mehta ruled late yesterday. Bloomberg reports that after a week of discussion between Google and the Justice Department, the department agreed to notify Google of documents it plans to post; Google will have until 9PM ET each day to dispute their release, and the department should address their objections by the next business day. “I would like both sides to be in a position to post as soon as it is reasonable to do so,” Mehta said.
The decision should see the return of files that were pulled down last week after Google complained about the Justice Department hosting them online. The two parties have argued extensively over what should be shown to the public during the trial, with Google alleging that the Justice Department could expose sensitive details about its business or produce “clickbait” by airing presentations and emails from the company. The trial has taken place under a veil of unusual secrecy, with much witness testimony closed to the public.
US v. Google is a fight over Google’s central search engine business, which the Justice Department claims has been maintained as an illegal monopoly since 2010. The department has focused on Google’s default placement deals with Android phone makers, Mozilla, and Apple — whose head of services, Eddy Cue, testified yesterday in court. Google argues that it provides a superior service and that users voluntarily choose its product regardless of whether it’s set as the default on a browser or mobile phone.
But several internal documents have proven, if not unambiguously damning, at least irritating for the company. They include email chains where Google executives chide each other for using language that might provoke suspicion from antitrust watchdogs, including terms like “bundle” and “market share” as well as presentations where Google emphasizes the “power of defaults” for setting consumer behavior. This past week’s fight over document posting was sparked by a yet-unseen email from Google finance head Michael Roszak — which Google said was irrelevant for the trial and Judge Mehta acknowledged could be “embarrassing” but likely did not contain confidential information.