Uber's Lewandowski Must Explain Why He's Pleading The Fifth

Chief of Uber's self-driving division Anthony Levandowski must explain why he's pleading the Fifth Amendment and refusing to reveal materials pertaining to a lawsuit Alphabet's Waymo recently filed against the company, alleging Levandowski himself stole thousands of classified documents which Uber then used to advance its autonomous driving ambitions. Levandowski was told to explain himself on Wednesday, as federal judge William Alsup said that invoking one's Fifth Amendment rights still requires a privilege log to be submitted for review, meaning a judge needs to go over the sensitive information Levandowski isn't keen on sharing due to fear of self-incrimination and evaluate whether any aspects of the thereof are truly incriminating. The U.S. District Judge specifically pointed out that his remark doesn't go against Levandowski's right to protect himself against self-incrimination but is instead looking to understand whether that notion is correct, adding that "you’ve got to do more than just say [Fifth Amendment] in court."

Uber repeatedly denied Waymo's accusations, claiming the company's LiDAR design is inherently different to that developed by Alphabet's subsidiary and accusing the company of using a bogus lawsuit to stifle competition and prevent Uber from developing a viable self-driving solution. The company also recently filed a motion for arbitration, trying to keep the court proceedings private due to a clause in Lewandowski's old employment contract with Waymo, but the Alphabet-owned autonomous vehicle firm soon filed an opposing motion, claiming no law can force it to resolve the dispute through private arbitration. It's currently unclear why Waymo is adamant to keep its legal battle with Uber as public as possible, but more details on the matter should follow later this year as the case unfolds.

As for Levandowski, Uber's self-driving chief will be deposed by Waymo's legal team on Friday in San Francisco. Levandowski was also subpoenaed to hand over the aforementioned documentation he took from Waymo, though he apparently isn't keen to do so. Judge Alsup already dismissed the majority of subpoena's contents, though he did allow the part that's asking Levandowski to hand over all sensitive materials that were allegedly used by Uber at the expense of Waymo.

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Dominik Bosnjak

Head Editor
Dominik started at AndroidHeadlines in 2016 and is the Head Editor of the site today. He’s approaching his first full decade in the media industry, with his background being primarily in technology, gaming, and entertainment. These days, his focus is more on the political side of the tech game, as well as data privacy issues, with him looking at both of those through the prism of Android. Contact him at [email protected]
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