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Judge in Google Antitrust Case Says It’s Not Clear He Can Sanction Company for Abusing Attorney-Client Privilege

Judge Amit Mehta, the U.S. federal judge hearing the government’s antitrust case against Alphabet’s Google, said he isn’t convinced he can sanction the company for overzealous attorney-client privilege use, Reuters reported Friday (April 8).

Mehta said that would be the case if the behavior occurred before the Justice Department’s lawsuit was filed.

Reuters wrote that the Justice Department asked the judge if it could sanction Google over the company’s “Communicate with Care” program, which asked employees to add a lawyer to many emails and was sometimes a “game” to shield communications that didn’t actually constitute attorney-client privilege.

Google has maintained that it didn’t break any rules.

Mehta said there was an “eye-popping” 140,000 documents ready for attorney-client privilege — though 98,000 of them were quickly given to the government. He also said he was unsure a federal court had the authority to take action on something that happened before the suit was filed.

Reuters reported that Google’s attorney, John Schmidtlein, said there were still 21,000 emails that were at issue.

Justice Department lawyer Kenneth Dintzer said Google should be sanctioned and made to turn over the 21,000 emails. Dintzer reportedly said the practice cost the government time in putting together a case.

PYMNTS wrote that Google recently took dozens of apps off its Google Play Store after learning they included software that secretly harvested user data.

See also: Google Weeds Data Harvesting Apps From Play Store

The Wall Street Journal reported that the company behind the software was Measurement Systems S. de R.L. out of Panama, which is connected through records to a Virginia defense contractor working for American national security agencies.

The code in question ran on “millions” of Android devices. It turned up in several Muslim prayer apps, which had been downloaded over 10 million times, along with other things like a highway speed trap app and one for reading QR codes.

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