Google Engineer Dismissed for Accessing User Gmail, Chat Logs

Lora Bentley
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Six Privacy Principles Google Forgot


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. 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.


As a result of the abuse of his position, Barksdale was dismissed and the company is increasing the amount of time spent reviewing and auditing its logs to make sure the controls that are in place are working.


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.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Sep 16, 2010 2:31 AM cherubian cherubian  says:

Good for Goggle, this shows considerable concern for their clients.


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