Just recently, Google confirmed that it has kicked out another one of its “immoral” engineers for violating one mortal sin in their field—accessing user data that is supposed to be safe and governed by privacy and security policies.
This eventually affirms the earlier Gawker report that detailed how Google engineer David Barksdale allegedly took advantage of his internal authority and privilege to access personal and private Gmail and GTalk accounts. This gave him the ability to spy and harass people using the aforementioned Google services, including four minors.
One reported incident involves a 15-year old boy with whom Barksdale supposedly befriended. According to the report, Barksdale tapped call records and logs from Google voice which is Google’s online calling service. This is after the teenage boy allegedly refused to tell Barksdale the name of his girlfriend. After he had access to the kid’s Google account and successfully got the girlfriend’s name and number, Barksdale threatened the kid, saying that he would call his girlfriend. None of the abuses were sexually related, but equally harassing though.
Barksdale, 27, met the mentioned teenagers in a technology group while he was working as a Site Reliability Engineer at Google’s Kirkland office in Washington. He was suspended July 2010 after Google got the notifications regarding his abuses.
Google admitted that this is the second time they had kicked out an employee in relation to a similar indecent act, breaching privacies of Google users. But Google did not bother to give further information about the first incident, only that it did not involve minors as the most recent case did.
As response and action to the case, Google reportedly increased its efforts in auditing their logs. It is indeed an act with a good intention, but it also didn’t save Google from comments such as why the company should still wait for “second time around” before doing the mentioned solution. There are also people who can’t help but doubt the plan, saying that it might be impossible to do the said auditing of logs.
In such incidences and cases, Internet services users may fall under the doubt with the security tech companies like Google could offer. But nonetheless, we need their services—it’s even a part of our lives already. It is of course the company’s duty to secure the privacy and safety of their users and patrons. So, what could all of us do is keep our fingers crossed that the said logs auditing of Google is enough to keep our securities in tact.
(image credit: Gawker.com)
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