Google has denied allegations by the US government that it destroyed evidence needed for an antitrust investigation by turning off its internal chat system’s “history” feature. According to the Department of Justice, Google executives use the chat feature so that their conversations are not turned over to any investigation.
Breitbart News previously reported that the Department of Justice accused Google of destroying chat messages that were required to be preserved as part of an antitrust investigation.
Breitbart News reporter Alana Mastrangelo wrote:
The Justice Department says Google destroyed chat messages that were required to be preserved during the antitrust investigation. According to one document, “Amazingly, the daily extortions from Google continued until this week. When the US indicated it would make the proposal — after months of granting — Google finally committed to “permanently set the date on” and thus preserve chat messages for its employees. “
The Justice Department said Google “systematically destroyed an entire class of written communications every 24 hours,” in violation of federal rules that seek to keep chats relevant to litigation. filing.
Now, Ars Technica reports The internet giant is defending its decision. In a document filed with the US District of Columbia court, the company claimed that using the functionality was a reasonable precaution to protect chats, refuting claims that it intentionally destroyed evidence.
The US Department of Justice, along with 21 other states, has asked the court to punish Google over allegations it used the auto-delete feature to delete evidence and deceive the government by claiming it suspended auto-delete practices on chats that were the subject of a search. from a legal contract.
The company’s response was that it uses a “tiered approach” to maintaining chats and is advising employees under legal custody not to use messaging services such as Google Chat to discuss the lawsuit. If necessary, they are instructed to set their chat settings to “turn on history” to retain any messages relating to legal matters.
The lawsuit against Google was filed in October 2020 and alleged that through anti-competitive and exclusionary practices, Google is illegally maintaining monopolies in the search and search advertising markets. When it became clear that legal action was about to be taken, the US announced that Google “has a duty to preserve employee chat messages” starting in 2019.
According to Google, the plaintiffs on behalf of the government “are asserting that federal rules specifically state that Google should have applied a forced record-setting of all guardians to all chats created while the guardian was lawfully in custody, regardless of the message’s potential relevance to litigation.” “.
However, Google noted that federal regulations only call for “reasonable steps to preserve” the information. Google claimed that its extensive preservation efforts in this case — particularly its methodology regarding chats that no longer exist in history — were “reasonable steps” as defined by the rule.
Google stated that the US and state attorneys general “were not denied access to material information needed to prosecute these cases nor have they presented any evidence that Google willfully destroyed such evidence”. The company also argued that the objections were filed too late and that the government knew before the lawsuit began “that there is a subset of chats that are not automatically kept.”
As suggested by the Justice Department last month, events played out very differently. “Google has systematically destroyed an entire category of written communication every 24 hours,” said the government proposal, for nearly four years.
The movement added:
This whole time, Google has falsely told the US that Google has “imposed a legal reservation” which “suspends automatic deletion”. Indeed, during the US investigation and discovery phase of this litigation, Google repeatedly misrepresented its document retention policies, conveying the false impression that the company was keeping all guarded conversations. Not only did Google unequivocally assert during the investigation that its legal hold suspended auto-deletion, but Google has consistently failed to disclose – to both the US and the court – its 24-hour auto-deletion policy. Instead, at every turn, Google has reiterated that it keeps and searches all potentially relevant written communications.
Antitrust activists have heavily criticized Google’s use of the stop-date feature, claiming that the company’s methods are anti-competitive and that it should be held responsible for its actions. The accusations against Google are part of a larger global campaign against big tech companies by regulators looking to limit the influence of dominant tech companies such as Google, Facebook and Amazon.
Read more Ars Technica is here.
Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and internet censorship. Follow him on Twitter @employee
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