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Don’t Delete Slack or Signal Chats, US Agencies Warn Companies

Federal antitrust enforcers are cautioning companies undergoing investigations about the imperative to preserve instant messaging records. The Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission have announced a revision in the language conveyed to such companies, underscoring the obligation to maintain and furnish messages from platforms like Salesforce Inc.’s Slack and transient messaging apps such as Meta Platforms Inc.’s WhatsApp and Signal. The agencies have warned that neglecting to conserve these messages could result in fines or potential criminal charges for document destruction.

This development follows apprehensions raised by antitrust enforcers in recent cases where there were allegations of deleted chats and messages. In its antitrust lawsuit against Alphabet Inc.’s Google, the Justice Department has sought sanctions against the company for its failure to preserve internal communications. Another federal judge criticized Google’s record-keeping practices, leading to the eradication of messages on Google Chats, the company’s internal messaging program.

Concurrently, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) accused Inc., including founder Jeff Bezos, of utilizing the messaging app Signal to conceal communications during an antitrust investigation. Amazon rebuffed claims of message deletion, asserting that it had informed the FTC about Signal usage, collected conversations from employees’ phones, and allowed agency staff to inspect those conversations.

This cautionary move underscores the significance of transparency and the preservation of communication records during antitrust investigations, with potential repercussions for companies failing to comply with these requirements.

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