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Consumers Ask for Court to Order Meta to Produce FTC Antitrust Case Docs

The sign denoting the Federal Trade Commission's building in Washington.

Washington, D.C., USA - July 19, 2019: This is the exterior view of the street sign in front of the US Federal Trade Commission headquarters. The FTC is the governmental agency tasked with regulating commerce and business practices for the federal government

On Monday, the consumer plaintiffs suing Meta Platforms for antitrust abuses relating to its collection and use of user data wrote a letter brief to the court overseeing the consolidated case asking for it to intervene in a discovery dispute. The plaintiffs claim that though Judge James Donato already deemed their request for Facebook deposition transcripts and lists of future deponents from the FTC’s antitrust action reasonable, Meta is conditioning their release on certain demands.

As previously reported, the plaintiffs allege that Meta obtained and maintains monopoly power by “deceiving the market as to the data that Facebook collects, and the uses to which that data is put.” Meta answered the consumers’ amended complaint in March after some claims survived Meta’s dismissal bid. This week’s letter brief comes as discovery is underway.

The plaintiffs assert that they are entitled to the FTC deposition transcripts and list of future deponents because they are both relevant and marginally burdensome while, in response, Meta makes a “convoluted set of ‘compromise’ demands that are contrary to the Court’s directions at the status conference.”

The consumer plaintiffs assert that Facebook has admitted that one deposition topic, user surveys, is relevant and the second, regarding Facebook databases and systems, and specifically “where and how user data worldwide for the last twelve years has been stored,” is too.

“Facebook’s testimony regarding the ‘user data’ it collects and uses, how that data flows through Facebook’s systems and where it is stored, and the extent to which Facebook is able (or unable) to track that data (or not) is highly relevant,” the letter brief says.

In addition, the plaintiffs claim Facebook has no valid reason for refusing to periodically provide a schedule of Facebook depositions in the FTC action to facilitate their requests for relevant transcripts. The administrative burden Facebook cites is baseless, the brief concludes.

Interim counsel for the consumer class is Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP, Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, Keller Lenkner LLC, and Lockridge Grindal Nauen P.L.L.P. 

Facebook is represented by Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr.

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