Google Engineer Fired For Spying On Teen Users; Serious Privacy Concerns Raised
from the privacy-concerns dept
The bigger Google has gotten, the more privacy concerns have been raised — and with good reason. At times, unfortunately, the company has appeared dismissive of security and privacy concerns, even though it continues to try to make the case that people should trust the company. Sometimes, it feels like Google’s critics take Google’s comments out of context to slam the company, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t serious security issues to be aware of — and the latest news is exceptionally troubling. A report came out that a Google engineer regularly accessed accounts and information from local teenagers he had met, mainly for the sake of showing off to them. Google has fired the guy, and also admitted that it knows of one other similar security breach, which involved another employee who was then fired.
What’s still rather alarming, however, is that this was possible, and that, despite all of Google’s claims of security and procedures to keep these things from happening, the news did not come out until Google was alerted to the actions by parents of some of the teens involved. Google is notoriously secretive on these issues, and its “statement” on this matter, frankly, is pretty weak:
“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.”
That doesn’t explain anything about how Google makes sure these kinds of things won’t happen again. I certainly can understand that there’s always going to need to be some people who can access certain systems, but the question is what Google does to make sure that access is not just limited, but monitored to avoid serious abuses like this. At a time when Google is under such strict scrutiny for privacy issues, this news and Google’s response are simply unacceptable.