DOJ accuses Google of destroying key evidence in landmark antitrust case

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In the final day of arguments in the Google anti-trust case, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has accused the tech giant of destroying crucial internal chat logs that may have contained evidence of anticompetitive behavior. This revelation comes as the trial, which addresses allegations of Google monopolizing the search engine market, nears its conclusion.

The DOJ claims that Google encouraged employees to delete chat histories that could have included discussions around sensitive business practices, such as revenue-sharing agreements and mobile app distribution deals. The government alleges that these conversations might have exposed Google’s intent to exclude rivals and maintain its dominance.

Judge Amit Mehta, overseeing the case, expressed disbelief over Google’s alleged actions, stating that “Google’s document retention policy leaves a lot to be desired.” The DOJ is now urging the court to sanction Google by presuming that the destroyed chat logs contained evidence of anticompetitive conduct.

Google attorney Colette Connor argued that the DOJ lacks proof that the missing chats were relevant to the case, and asserted that Google had disclosed its chat retention practices to at least one state involved in the litigation. However, DOJ lawyer Kenneth Dintzer countered that merely informing one plaintiff did not fulfill Google’s obligations, and that the court should assume the lost information was unfavorable to Google.

The internal chat controversy is one aspect of a broader legal battle over Google’s alleged search engine monopoly. The DOJ has argued that Google’s distribution deals with smartphone makers and browsers stifled competition, drawing parallels to the Microsoft antitrust case from the late ’90s.

The case is now in the hands of Judge Mehta, who could rule against Google on the search monopoly claims and potentially consider remedies, including breaking up parts of Google’s business.

 

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