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Google Defends Auto-Deletion of Chats After US Alleged It Destroyed Evidence

Google defended its use of "history-off chats" for many internal communications, denying the US government's allegation that it intentionally destroyed evidence needed in an antitrust case. The history-off setting causes messages to be automatically deleted within 24 hours. Ars Technica reports: The US government and 21 states last month asked a court to sanction Google for allegedly using the auto-delete function on chats to destroy evidence and accused Google of falsely telling the government that it suspended its auto-deletion practices on chats subject to a legal hold. Google opposed the motion for sanctions on Friday in a filing (PDF) in US District Court for the District of Columbia. Google said it uses a "tiered approach" for preserving chats. "When there is litigation, Google instructs employees on legal hold not to use messaging apps like Google Chat to discuss the subjects at issue in the litigation and, if they must, to switch their settings to 'history on' for chats regarding the subjects at issue in the litigation, so that any such messages are preserved," the Google filing said.

Google said the government plaintiffs "contend that the Federal Rules specifically mandate that Google should have applied a forced history on setting for all custodians for all chats created while the custodian was on legal hold, regardless of the possible relevance of the message to the litigation." But federal rules only require "reasonable steps to preserve" information, Google pointed out. "Google's vast preservation efforts here -- and specifically its methodology with respect to history-off chats -- were 'reasonable steps' under the Rule," Google argued. Google said the US and state attorneys general "have not been denied access to material information needed to prosecute these cases and they have offered no evidence that Google intentionally destroyed such evidence." Google also argued that the objections came too late, alleging that the government knew before litigation began "that there was a subset of chats not automatically retained." "Plaintiffs' motions are barred at the outset because they were on notice of Google's approach to chats for years, yet did not object until well after the close of discovery. Those tactics should not be countenanced," Google told the court.

Google said its November 2019 disclosures in an ESI (Electronically Stored Information) questionnaire "show that the distinction between 'on-the-record' and other chats was apparent to anyone who wanted to pursue the matter from the outset of DOJ's investigation. For instance, the ESI Questionnaire response specifies that chat 'messages are generally retained for a period of 30 days if they have been marked on-the-record, and potentially longer if on-the-record messages are on legal hold.'" Google also said, "it is no secret how Google's Chat product operates" because it's a publicly available product and the Google Chat website explains the history-off feature. The Justice Department's motion last month said things happened very differently. "Google systematically destroyed an entire category of written communications every 24 hours" for nearly four years, the government motion said, continuing [...].

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Last Energy Signs Deal Worth $19 Billion For Nuclear Plants In Europe

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Last Energy Inc., a startup developing advanced, smaller nuclear power plants, completed four deals worth $18.9 billion to build 34 reactors in Europe. The Washington-based company expects to install the first of its 20-megawatt systems as soon as 2025, Chief Executive Officer Bret Kugelmass said in an interview Monday. Last is building its first system in Texas, but is still seeking approval from regulators in Poland and the UK, where it closed the Europe deals.

Last is part of a wave of companies seeking to install smaller reactors that could be manufactured in factories and assembled on-site. The approach is expected to make them faster and cheaper to build than conventional nuclear plants, but the technology is still untested. Kugelmass said the agreements validate the strategy and show growing demand for nuclear energy. "It's huge for us, and it's a milestone for the whole industry," he said.

Last plans to build and operate the plants, and the $18.9 billion value of the deals represents the revenue it anticipates over the course of power-purchase agreements that stretch as long as 24 years. The company must arrange financing for the estimated $100 million it will need for each system. The customers include a data-center operator and a hydrogen producer in the UK and an industrial zone in Poland. It announced last year agreements to build 12 systems for two additional customers in Poland. While the lack of regulatory approval is a key barrier, Last Energy's small design means that engineering and safety issues will be simpler than with larger reactors, said Jessica Lovering, executive director of Good Energy Collective, a pro-nuclear research group.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


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Found Kodachrome Slide

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Found Kodachrome Slide

handwritten on slide, “John, Winter, 66-67" date stamped on slide May 1967

Fokke & Sukke

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Weeping Cherry blossom at Honmanji Temple, Kyoto-Japan.

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Weeping Cherry blossom at Honmanji Temple, Kyoto-Japan.

This is a 90-year-old Weeping Cherry blossom tree at Honmanji Temple, Kyoto-Japan.


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2.5-minute video on YouTube and Reddit, by James Eagle, visualizing what proportion of Web users use particular web browsers (via Unpretty).


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Guide Falls

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Guide Falls

Sun shining through the spray at Lower Guide Falls, Tasmania