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In 2008, Google intentionally decided to make chats “off the record” by default to avoid them being “used against you or us in ways you wouldn’t expect.”

Pichai is being grilled about a September 16th, 2008, email from Bill Coughran where he announces the change:

To help avoid inadvertent retention of instant messages, we have decided to make “off the record” the Google corporate default setting for Google Talk. 

However, Epic is not highlighting one very relevant passage further down the email:

If you’ve received notice that you’re subject to a litigation hold, and you must chat regarding matters covered by that hold, please make sure that those chats are “on the record”. 

Pichai admits that Google kept this default setting ever since; he says he relies on the judgment of Google’s legal and compliance teams — especially Google chief legal officer Kent Walker.