Scandalous Allegations Surface: U.S. Government Takes on Tech Giant Google for Deleting Employee Chats!

The U.S. Department of Justice alleges that Google deleted sensitive chats for the antitrust investigation.

Scandalous Allegations Surface: U.S. Government Takes on Tech Giant Google for Deleting Employee Chats!
Pedro Domínguez

Pedro Domínguez

  • Updated:

More trouble for one of the tech giants. The U.S. Department of Justice this week sued Google for “routinely shredding” its employees’ chat messages over several years. The company Epic Games, creator of the popular video game Fortnite, once raised a similar issue in its case against Google, accusing the company of anti-competitive conduct.

As picked up by TechCrunch, this latest lawsuit continues the antitrust lawsuit that the U.S. Department of Justice initially filed in 2020 against Google for monopolizing the search and advertising market.

The U.S. Department of Justice claims in the lawsuit that Google was required under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to end its practice of auto-deleting chat histories as soon as it anticipated the upcoming litigation, back in mid-2019. However, the company failed to do so, the U.S. government claims, and Google employees merely had the option to disable or enable Google Hangouts chat history when they saw fit.

Google Hangouts DOWNLOAD

This Google program, the lawsuit explains, offers a feature for “off-the-record” chats that are automatically deleted after 24 hours. The complaint alleges that the company even taught its employees to use this feature to discuss sensitive topics instead of using email.

In addition, the new lawsuit points to an internal Google policy created just weeks after the litigation was filed that authorized company employees to manage whether or not they wanted to retain their Hangouts conversations by selecting chats with the “history on” option, which would retain chat messages for between 30 days and 18 months (as selected by the user), or “history off,” thus deleting messages after 24 hours (the default option for individual chats is “history off”).

The U.S. Government also alleges that Google falsely claimed that it put a “legal hold” on the automatic deletion, and that it lied when it said it was keeping all chats in safekeeping, since it left the feature to automatically delete chats active until this month, without any official agency having any record of it.

The new lawsuit states the following: “As we now know, over the past four years, Google systematically destroyed these written communications. In fact, Google continued to automatically delete these ‘off-the-record’ chats after reasonably anticipating litigation, throughout the U.S. investigation and even when the company became a defendant in this litigation, every 24 hours until February 8, 2023.”

A vitally important issue in Epic Games’ lawsuit against Google, in which the judge has already stated that he will not let Google “get away with” deleting chats. The court in the Epic Games case continues to collect internal company chats that have a bearing on the litigation, with particular interest in terms such as “sensitive,” “history disabled,” “history enabled,” or “off the record.”

Pedro Domínguez

Pedro Domínguez

Publicist and audiovisual producer in love with social networks. I spend more time thinking about which videogames I will play than playing them.

Latest from Pedro Domínguez

Editorial Guidelines