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DOJ alleges Google destroyed chat messages that it was required to save during antitrust investigation

Author: Lauren Feiner - CNBC

...Google “systematically destroyed” instant message chats every 24 hours, violating federal rules to preserve potentially relevant communications for litigation, the Department of Justice alleged in a filing that became public on Thursday.
...Epic submitted exhibits in that case that seemed to show some Google employees believed chats were a safer place to conduct sensitive conversations. For example, one exhibit shows an employee comment on a document that says “Since it’s a sensitive topic, I prefer to discuss offline or over hangout,” referring to Google’s chat product.
…Judge James Donato indicated he would be open to a kind of adverse jury instruction, but one that would allow the jury to draw its own conclusions on what the deletion of messages means for the case.
...Scallen said that if Google “didn’t give clear directions to retain” relevant chats “this notion that they left it to the individuals, that’s just not responsible.”

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Editor Comment:

Interesting counterpoint to Twitter’s Slack outage killing productivity. Google’s internal Hangout’s have a default 24 hour purge that had to be manually changed to keep chats. ESI is more than just email and Word documents. Employees need the freedom to innovate and experiment with new technologies to be competitive. Legal, compliance and security teams must keep up with evolving business-communication practices to control risk. That requires a formal, practical process for users to register new applications for review and tracking. New client assessments frequently amaze me with the large divergence between interrogatory responses and actual interviews with custodians. Better to know than be caught out in a deposition.

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