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Tue Sept 14 2010 22:05:50

Google Fires Engineer for Breach of Privacy Policies

By: Ina Steiner

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Gawker reports that a Google engineer has been fired for allegedly taking advantage of his position to access users' accounts, violating the privacy of at least four minors during his employment. Gawker paints a pretty creepy tale of an abuse of power.

According to reports, Google issued a statement confirming that it had fired the engineer for "breaking Google's strict internal privacy policies."

It's difficult for a large corporation to control the actions of each and every employee, so it's imperative that they figure out ways to safeguard against such breaches. Human nature being what it is, it can apparently be tempting for employees to peek inside the private records of their customers.




Comments (12) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Google Fires Engineer for Breach of Privacy Policies   Google Fires Engineer for Breach of Privacy Policies

by: Sharon W.

Tue Sep 14 22:26:42 2010

It's disturbing, but not surprising. I think we forget that there are human beings behind these internet companies, and humans do bad things sometimes. You think the same type of behaviour doesn't go on at Yahoo or Microsoft or eBay?

Google Fires Engineer for Breach of Privacy Policies   Google Fires Engineer for Breach of Privacy Policies

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Wed Sep 15 00:12:51 2010

My feeling is that if the breadth and depth of this problem were fully known, the unemployment lines in Silicon Valley would be much longer.

Or not if the offender works for ebay where I know from first hand experience it happens frequently.

Google Fires Engineer for Breach of Privacy Policies   Google Fires Engineer for Breach of Privacy Policies

by: Google Giggle

Wed Sep 15 08:13:59 2010

Interesting Google FIRES when a crime is commited. eBay on the other hand PROMOTES the criminals.

Google Fires Engineer for Breach of Privacy Policies   Google Fires Engineer for Breach of Privacy Policies

by: jay

Wed Sep 15 10:52:17 2010

EBAY ON YOUR MIND

No matter what the subject is, Ebay is always mentioned.

Once you do Ebay it's in your blood FOREVER!

You'll never get over the fact Ebay still LIVES while your business dies!

Google Fires Engineer for Breach of Privacy Policies   Google Fires Engineer for Breach of Privacy Policies

by: me2

Wed Sep 15 11:01:14 2010

Don't forget the government!A matter of degrees-

Google Fires Engineer for Breach of Privacy Policies   Google Fires Engineer for Breach of Privacy Policies

by: buck efay

Wed Sep 15 11:31:31 2010

Jay, you got that backwards DUDE my business is thriving OFF Ebay! Meanwhile tried the free listings this month, and now as a TRS with free shipping. My experience? 9 items sold out of 100. Down from 16 when I was only an ASS a month before and charged shipping. Had I paid listing fees, I would have made nothing. FAILBAY. Down from 60-70% STR 3 years ago, JAY! Ebay is a FAILURE. BUY only manages 16% STR!!!! Great job at letting go of a "Successful past" Dimwit. Now what's Ebay's future??? FAILURE.

Google Fires Engineer for Breach of Privacy Policies   Google Fires Engineer for Breach of Privacy Policies

by: buck efay

Wed Sep 15 11:33:42 2010

Ebay traffic trending 2% lower that Ecommerce as a whole, Amazon 16% higher FAIL FAIL FAILBAY!

http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abn/y10/m09/i15/s01>
Jay,
in what metric is Ebay better today under JD?
Lower Stock Price
Lower Sales
Less Sellers
Lower GMV
FAILURE.

Google Fires Engineer for Breach of Privacy Policies   Google Fires Engineer for Breach of Privacy Policies

by: 724634

Wed Sep 15 14:46:42 2010

I agree with Ming. I bet the problem is more widespread than anyone can imagine.

Also I don't trust google. It's just plain creepy the amount of info they can collect about you & your surfing habits. I'm already paying my ISP, goog or anyone else has no business selling data on me.

Google now has scripting elements by which they can even tell where all your mouse went to on any given page.

I use scroogle ssl and have google analytics blocked out through hosts. For when I do (must) use google, I have greasemonkey scripts and other goodies to kill & confound their anti-privacy stuff.

People who want the scroogle ssl search tool can look at the mycroft.mozdev.org site. Various privacy related google scripts can be found at userscipts.org BTW

Now the ebay relayed portion of my comment. That guy will probably go on to work for ebay, paypal, or liveworld. he's fully qualified.

@ Google Giggle, You mean like Lorrie Norrington getting promoted shortly after that thing with the shoes and not disclosing her employee status? LOL

Google Fires Engineer for Breach of Privacy Policies   Google Fires Engineer for Breach of Privacy Policies

This user has validated their user name. by: Tula

Wed Sep 15 18:49:07 2010

This is a tough problem for companies to tackle. A lot of the work that engineers -- especially software engineers -- do involves data. Restricting data can make it harder and more time-consuming to fix problems or build new capabilities, so companies need to balance the privacy concerns with the need to get into the data to actually serve their customers. Most places restrict and encrypt things like credit card numbers, but other information like names, addresses, products purchased, etc., is more accessible since that data is used for problem resolution, shipment tracking, demographics analysis, and sales metrics.

At some point, a company has to trust its employees to do their jobs ethically, but there will always be a few who slip through the screening process. Even a company like Google, with its famously difficult and thorough hiring process will get it wrong every once in a while. Plus, people can change and perhaps develop mental illnesses during the course of employment, so there's no surefire method to prevent this from happening. The best a company can do is, like Google, take appropriate action when it does occur.

Google Fires Engineer for Breach of Privacy Policies   Google Fires Engineer for Breach of Privacy Policies

by: Cheryl

Wed Sep 15 21:35:58 2010

I find it most interesting that ''Jay'' has failed to respond to any of the comments directed to him...why is this?  Does he really not believe his own words?  I would be interested to see his rebuttal...

Google Fires Engineer for Breach of Privacy Policies   Google Fires Engineer for Breach of Privacy Policies

by: jay

Fri Sep 17 00:01:11 2010

Yes, it's harder to sell one's goods on Ebay than it was in the past. Ebay fee's have gone up and sales have gone down. Agreed!
But i find it interesting that any and all threads have more mention of Ebay then the title topic gets. It seems everyone is pointing the finger at the easiest place. EBAY
When a lot of sellers need to look in the mirror.
It's not easy making ends meet in the sinking economy we live in today.
HOLD ON IT'S GOING TO GET TOUGHER IN 2011

Google Fires Engineer for Breach of Privacy Policies   Google Fires Engineer for Breach of Privacy Policies

by: On Lies and Secrets This user has validated their user name.

Fri Sep 17 19:03:03 2010

This incident is really creepy and a terrible abuse of power. It seems to me that the young people whom Barksdale was harassing didn't have enough protections or support through the Google platform itself to put an end to his behavior on their own even though they tried.  The company didn't appear to act until the parents insisted that they do and it should not have taken this much effort for google to address this problem given its sensitive nature.  If corporations don't effectively regulate themselves and go to extra efforts to protect young people, then the government should intervene.



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