Senators Question Google over Bullying Tinder the Day Before Hearing

Google CEO Sundar Pichai testifies remotely during a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on antitrust on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, July 29, 2020, in Washington. (Mandel Ngan/Pool via AP)
Mandel Ngan/Pool via AP

The two top senators on the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust have sent a letter to Google asking about a phone call the company made to Match Group, the developer behind the Tinder dating app, a day before its top lawyer was set to testify about the company’s treatment on the Google Play app store. Match claims the call was an attempt to pressure the company into making positive comments about the Masters of the Universe.

CNBC reports that the chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and ranking member Sen. Mike Lee, (R-UT), have sent a letter to Google this week requesting more information on a phone call between Google and Match Group a day before the Tinder app developer’s lawyer was set to testify about the company’s treatment on the Google Play app store.

Match Chief Legal Officer Jared Sine told senators during last week’s hearing that employees at Google called Match after Sine’s opening testimony became public. Sine stated that the Google employees questioned why his testimony appeared to differ from Match’s previous comments on its last earnings call.

In the testimony, Sine stated that Google had made “false pretenses of an open platform.” During the last earnings call, however, Match executives said that they believed that they were having productive negotiations with Google about its 30 percent in-app store payment fee.

Google’s Senior Director of Public Policy and Government Relations, Wilson White, stated that it seemed like Google’s business development team reached out to Match to ask an “honest question.”

In a letter addressed to White, Sen. Klobuchar and Sen. Lee stated: “We are deeply troubled by Match Group’s claims that Google may have attempted to influence another witness’s testimony. Any efforts to retaliate against those who speak up about public policy issues or possible legal violations are unacceptable, especially by dominant companies that have the power to destroy the business of a whistle-blower.”

The committee members further requested details of the call, including the names of those on the call. The senators wrote: “Witness intimidation in any form will not be tolerated.”

A Google spokesperson told CNBC: “Match is a valued partner and we regularly communicate with them about the business we do together. We did not and would not try to influence their testimony, intimidate them or otherwise retaliate.”

Read more at CNBC here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address lucasnolan@protonmail.com

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