Coalition for App Fairness: Apple is Using Subpoenas to Punish Opponents by Prying Into Confidential Communications
Apple has filed a subpoena against the Coalition for App Fairness, requesting details on their communications as Apple fights a series of antitrust lawsuits. The Coalition for App Fairness comprises several companies who have been critical of Apple's App Store rules and fees, including Epic Games, Spotify, Deezer, Tile, and Match Group.
Members of the Coalition for App Fairness earlier this month filed a lawsuit (via Apple Insider) attempting to prevent Apple's subpoenas from being approved. The Coalition for App Fairness is afraid that Apple will use those private communications to retaliate against coalition members.
The Coalition for App Fairness says that it is not involved in Apple's antitrust matters, which were filed before the coalition was formed. Apple has also subpoenaed communications from Forbes Tate Partners LLC, a public affairs firm used by the Coalition for App Fairness, and Meghan DiMuzio, the coalition's executive director.
Apple is seeking a "host of documents and communications," such as formation documents, activities, meeting minutes, recruitment efforts, membership lists, financing, communications between coalition members and potential members, and communications between coalition members and any foreign or domestic governmental entity or official relating to Apple.
The Coalition for App Fairness says that if the subpoenas are approved, it could "chill the candor" of member discussions and the "effectiveness of the Coalition's advocacy efforts."
Yet Apple has made intrusive demands for documents and communications with not even the slightest connection to that issue, such as the Coalition's internal governance documents, financial support, public-relations strategy, and vast amounts of confidential communications between and among Coalition staff, members, and others. The true purpose of Apple's discovery requests should be obvious: the company is seeking to punish its political opponents by prying into their confidential communications through burdensome and intrusive discovery.
Communications between coalition members are "irrelevant to the claims and defenses in the antitrust cases and are disproportional to the needs of the cases," according to the filing.
The Coalition for App Fairness has asked the judge to "quash" Apple's subpoenas entirely. Apple is seeking the documentation for the class action antitrust lawsuit that it is dealing with.