Google Files Document Production Demand Against One of its Biggest Public Critics
With respect to Google’s ongoing federal antitrust case, United States v. Google, the company filed for a court order late Monday night requesting that longtime Google critic Luther Lowe produce documents requested by Google.
As a result of what appears to be a breakdown in negotiations between Google and Yelp, the lawsuit has been filed. A number of Yelp employees have consented to produce information, but Lowe in particular has refused, forcing Google to approach the court for a subpoena to force email archives and other documents.
“Yelp’s allegations against Google conceived and advanced by Mr. Lowe, are a central part of the government’s case,” the filing reads. “Now that the very governmental action Yelp advocated for in its communications is underway, Yelp cannot deny Google the documents it needs to defend itself.” Like many other documents in the antitrust case, the 51-page brief is heavily redacted.
As vice president of public policy at Yelp, Lowe has long been a prominent voice lobbying for antitrust action against Google, even producing an email weekly called “This Week In Google Antitrust” to track support for action against the search engine. In public pronouncements, Lowe has notably focused on the search neutrality argument against Google, arguing that the firm utilises the strength of Google Search to co-opt and overpower subject-matter directories like Yelp.
This isn’t the first time Google has utilised the antitrust actions to coerce document production from rivals. In July, the firm pushed for significant fresh document production from Microsoft, after the corporation disclosed hundreds of thousands of documents with prosecutors in advance of the case’s filing.
A request for comment from both Google and Lowe went unanswered.