Ex-Googler Accessed Private Info of Minors

Google Engineer Fired for Accessing User Data

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Here’s a story that’s probably going to get a lot of people riled up. It involves an ex-Google engineer violating user privacy, and the privacy of minors no less. Valleywag’s Adrian Chen writes:

A Google engineer spied on four underage teens for months before the company was notified of the abuses.

David Barksdale, a 27-year-old former Google engineer, repeatedly took advantage of his position as a member of an elite technical group at the company to access users’ accounts, violating the privacy of at least four minors during his employment, we’ve learned. Barksdale met the kids through a technology group in the Seattle area while working as a Site Reliability Engineer at Google’s Kirkland, Wash. office. He was fired in July 2010 after his actions were reported to the company. 

In case you needed confirmation, Bill Coughran, Senior Vice President, Engineering, Google released the following statement:

"We dismissed David Barksdale for breaking Google’s strict internal privacy policies. We carefully control the number of employees who have access to our systems, and we regularly upgrade our security controls–for example, we are significantly increasing the amount of time we spend auditing our logs to ensure those controls are effective. That said, a limited number of people will always need to access these systems if we are to operate them properly–which is why we take any breach so seriously."

According to Jason Kincaid at TechCrunch, Google says this has happened another time in a case that didn’t involve minors. 

Consumer Watchdog, the group that recently released the video depicting Google CEO Eric Schmidt as an evil ice cream man has invited Google to a conference to discuss privacy and business practices.

Ex-Googler Accessed Private Info of Minors
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  • Guest

    Another reason to quit using any of that company’s products. This is a company apparently ran by kids or by irresponsible, arrogant people. There is no respect towards any law, nothing. I think this company needs to be brought down to its knees by the government to teach them and others a lesson. Doesn’t matter whether it is one rotten apple that did this; it’s the company irresponsible behavior that failed here. It’s not the first time. They write code and don’t check it to see if it violate privacy rights (wi-fi deal), the law or anything. They run over the the copyrights of others without any regards for other companies, they kill business left and right with their self-serving algo., etc. Microsoft, Yahoo are responsible companies that have every lawyer check their every move, their every line of code. I seriously doubt this company has a single one. They shoot first and ask questions later. If they get sued, they read in the couch, get some quarters and settle.

    The government needs to rip this company apart to see what’s going on in the inside. I’m sure it is a cesspool. Prosecute those at the top I’d say.

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