DOJ seeks to punish Google for destroying evidential chat logs

DOJ requests court sanctions against Google over its auto-deletion of vital employee chat history.

The Department of Justice is seeking court sanctions against Google for the alleged “intentional destruction” of company chat logs.

The DOJ said that, despite Google’s repeated assurances to the government to preserve its internal communications, it still maintained the policy of automatically wiping select employee chats after 24 hours. This poses difficulties for the government in its antitrust case against Google.

In the filing, the DOJ claimed Google’s chat software has a setting where employees can save text history for up to 18 months – but only if they manually enable it. The company allegedly routinely trained and encouraged staff to discuss sensitive topics over chat – given that they knew it would be auto-deleted the day after.

Google also admitted in a past hearing that internal chats would include “things that employees may not necessarily want to put in an e-mail.” The company’s “daily destruction of written records prejudiced the United States by depriving it of a rich source of candid discussions between Google’s executives, including likely trial witnesses,” the filing said.

DOJ lawyers have requested an evidentiary hearing due to the Court’s reluctance to issue sanctions without sufficient proof.