(ReclaimingAmerica.net) – A court filing by the US Justice Department has disclosed that tech giant Google had routinely destroyed legal evidence that would have been relevant in an ongoing antitrust investigation.
Google kept deleting chat messages on a daily basis even though it was prohibited by law from doing so, according to the DOJ, Breitbart News reported.
“Amazingly, Google’s daily spoliation continued until this week. When the United States indicated that it would file this motion — following months of conferral — Google finally committed to ‘permanently set to history on’ and thus preserve its employees’ chat messages,” the court filing stated.
“[Google] systematically destroyed an entire category of written communications every 24 hours,” the DOJ wrote in the court papers.
It made it clear that it violated federal rules stipulating that chats potentially relevant to the litigation had to be preserved.
“The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure required Google to suspend its auto-delete practices in mid-2019, when the company reasonably anticipated this litigation. Google did not,” the Justice Department found.
“Instead, as described above, Google abdicated its burden to individual custodians to preserve potentially relevant chats,” the court filing read further.
“Few, if any, document custodians did so. That is, few custodians, if any, manually changed, on a chat-by-chat basis, the history default from off to on,” the DOJ added.
That was how the tech giant constantly kept destroying potentially relevant written communication.
At the same time, the Justice Department investigators alleged that Google “falsely” told the US government that it had instituted “a legal hold in place” which “suspends auto-deletion.”
“At every turn, Google reaffirmed that it was preserving and searching all potentially relevant written communications,” the Biden administration’s DOJ added.
After the court filing by the US government, a spokesperson for Google told CNBC that the company’s executives “strongly refute the DOJ’s claims.”
“Our teams have conscientiously worked for years to respond to inquiries and litigation. In fact, we have produced over 4 million documents in this case alone, and millions more to regulators around the world,” the spokesperson declared.
The Breitbart report pointed out that the current dispute with the Justice Department was “not the first time” that Google’s internal chats had appeared in litigation on antitrust issues.
Previously, the issue with Google’s chats occurred in the Epic Games’ antitrust lawsuit that the video game company launched against Google and Apple in 2020.
Epic Games presented exhibits showing quotes from Google employees saying that chats were “a safer place to have sensitive conversations,” according to CNBC.
For example, one exhibit, in that case, showed an employee saying,
“Since it’s a sensitive topic, I prefer to discuss offline or over hangout,” one exhibit showed an employee saying concerning Google’s chat product.
The DOJ says Google destroyed chat messages it was required to save during an antitrust investigation. https://t.co/FD4Ypw5KWx
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) February 26, 2023