Wow. As much as Google has been in the news lately for privacy concerns arising from its different product offerings, I never thought I'd see this one. I'm glad Google immediately did the right thing. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
PCWorld.com reported Wednesday that the search giant fired an engineer in July for inappropriately accessing the Google Voice, Gmail and Google chat records belonging to several teenage users. David Barksdale had access to the databases in which chat logs and Gmail were stored because he was a site reliability engineer.
According to Google SVP Bill Coughran, the company "carefully controls" the number of people who have access to its systems and the accounts of users, but "a limited number of people will always need to access these systems" if they are to operate properly.
It's true that security controls and processes are always important, as are periodic reviews of those controls and audits to ensure they are doing what they were put in place to do. But no matter what those controls are and how often they are audited, they cannot control every element-particularly not the human element.