On October 25, 2022, the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ” or the “Department”) announced that Google had entered into an agreement to resolve a dispute over the loss of data responsive to a search warrant issued in 2016.
Under the agreement, Google has agreed to “reform and upgrade its legal process compliance program to ensure timely and complete responses to legal process such as subpoenas and search warrants, as required under the Stored Communications Act (SCA) and other applicable legal authorities.” An Independent Compliance Professional also will monitor Google’s enhancements and compliance with the agreement.
In 2016, U.S. prosecutors obtained a search warrant for data held at Google related to the criminal investigation of cryptocurrency exchange BTC-e. The warrant was issued under the SCA for data held by Google outside of the United States. From 2017-2018, Google and the DOJ litigated over the warrant, and, by the time Congress passed legislation in 2018 clarifying that the SCA could apply to information held abroad, Google had lost the data.
“The Department is committed to ensuring that electronic communications providers comply with court orders to protect and facilitate criminal investigations,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the DOJ’s Criminal Division. “This agreement demonstrates the Department’s resolve in ensuring that technology companies, such as Google, provide prompt and complete responses to legal process to ensure public safety and bring offenders to justice.”