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.