Under federal law, Google was apparently required to keep records of written text.
The Justice Department accuses Google’s team of routinely destroying internal messaging chats that the company is required to keep under federal rules for purposes of an antitrust lawsuit.
Google faces not one, but several such lawsuits filed by the Justice Department and several states. This particular case relates to the lawsuit the department filed back in 2020 for “illegally maintaining monopolies” around search and related ads, Engadget wrote on the subject.
The DOJ filing said company employees typically used its internal chat, which was set to delete history every 24 hours, to discuss “material and sensitive business matters.”
Google, however, denies the Justice Department’s allegations. A spokesman told The Wall Street Journal:
“Our teams have worked diligently for years to respond to inquiries and lawsuits. In fact, we have produced over 4 million documents in this case alone, and millions more to regulators around the world.”
Apparently, the agency had expected Google to change the chat history setting in 2019, when the company “reasonably anticipated [the] litigation,” but left the decision up to individual employees. Only a few people on the team felt their chat histories were relevant to the lawsuit and kept theirs for the court, and Google continued to delete most people’s chats even after the lawsuit was filed.