After I published the blog this week on polls and confidentiality, a reader, whose name will go unmentioned, gave me a good tip on a recent news event directly on point to the corporate confidentiality issue. On September 27, 2010, Google filed a motion to intervene in the U.S. Justice Department’s antitrust enforcement action against AT&T. Google seeks to intervene to attain greater protection of its documents under a protective order already set up in the case. See: Google Wants Business Data Protected In AT&T Antitrust Case. According to this article by Mike Scarcella in the Blog of LegalTimes:
The attorneys for Google said this evening that the company provided Justice confidential documents during its probe of AT&T’s planned $39 billion acquisition of rival T-Mobile. The company wants the ability to object in advance to any public disclosure of confidential information. ….
The protective order entered in the antitrust case earlier this month fails, according to Google, to require the parties in the dispute always to provide advance notice to Google of potential disclosure of confidential information.
Google’s attorneys said they want advance notice from the lawyers in the case when certain documents may be put on the public record, mentioned in open court or given to experts.
Google provided this confidential information in response to a subpoena as part of the government’s investigation of AT&T’s planned $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile. Google now claims that “Disclosure of such plans to competitors could not only harm Google, but likely also competition in mobile markets.” Id. For full disclosure, see the now public because filed with the court Motion and Memorandum in Support of Non-Party Google Inc.’s Motion to Intervene and supporting exhibits. It looks to be a very well done pleading as you would expect in a case of this importance. The signatories are Michael L. Keeley and John D. Harkrider of Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider LLP.
Many will smile at the irony of Google now fighting for privacy. Google has been sued many times for invading the privacy of others, especially including in Europe. See Eg.: Google, FTC settle charges of privacy violations; Google Privacy Violation Conviction: Three Executives Found Guilty In Italy; France Fines Google $142000 for Privacy Violations. What do you think?