Google to face investigation over deleted chat history
Google may face investigation over its deleted chat history, as Federal Judge James Donato says he plans to look into the matter. Over the past several weeks and months, Google has been locked in court trials. The company recently wrapped up its trial against the DOJ on November 16 in a lawsuit that alleges the company used exclusive deals to operate a monopoly in the search market. A ruling on that is expected sometime in 2024.
It’s also in court against Epic, which alleges Google has operated a monopoly with the Play Store by preventing fair competition for alternative app stores. In both trials, testimony revealed that Google employees, including CEO Sundar Pichai, had purposely enabled an “auto-delete” option for internal chats to keep information out of a courtroom. Donato calls Google’s act of destroying evidence “a frontal assault on the fair administration of justice” and that it “undercuts due process.”
Donato also states that he won’t force the jury via mandatory inference instruction to factor in that Google’s chat deletion could have hurt the company in the case. He says the jury “may” infer this was a possibility. But that he won’t make that decision for them. Instead, Donato plans to pursue the matter outside the bounds of this particular trial.
Donato may pursue a Google investigation over deleted chat history on his own time
Donato doesn’t appear to be leaving anything on the table. While he won’t continue to pursue the matter as part of this particular trial, he won’t be letting it go.
“I’m going to get to the bottom of who is responsible,” Donato said when referencing Google’s actions. He continued by confirming that it would be separate from the current trial. But he assures Google and everyone else in the courtroom that the time will come.
Epic and Google must discuss potential settlements
Today’s trial hearing also revealed that Judge Donato has ordered both companies to discuss potential settlements. Neither company has tried to settle. But they will be forced to sit down and try to hash things out. In hopes that an agreement can be reached. It’s an interesting turn of events. Especially considering Donato’s perseverance in investigating Google’s actions to potentially obstruct evidence.
A ruling on the case is expected to be made by December 11. So Google and Epic will have to sit down before that time and try to settle. There’s no guarantee of how those talks will go. However, it wouldn’t be surprising if either company was unable or unwilling to settle even after discussions.
Epic once reportedly refused a deal from Google to bring Fortnite to the Play Store. And Google isn’t likely to concede any special treatment to Epic over Play Store fees.
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