Google has just confirmed that it fired one of its engineers for violating internal security policies, effectively confirming a Gawker report that detailed how former employee David Barksdale had used his clearance to access private data of multiple people, including four minors. Barksdale has been dismissed for the offense, and Google says that it is “significantly increasing the amount of time we spend auditing our logs to ensure those controls are effective”.
We asked Google how many times this has happened and have confirmed that it is the second such incident. However, the previous case didn’t involve minors — the offender was dismissed just as Barksdale was. Honestly, given that Google has been around for over ten years and employs some 20,000 people, I half expected this number to be higher. Still, it’s disconcerting to hear that it’s happened at all.
To Google’s credit, it’s commenting on the issue. Contrast this with Facebook — a Rumpus article earlier this year stated that at least two employees have previously been fired for accessing user data. I asked Facebook about this repeatedly, and they refused to directly answer how many times this had happened, if ever.
Google provides search and advertising services, which together aim to organize and monetize the world’s information. In addition to its dominant search engine, it offers a plethora of online tools and platforms including: Gmail, Maps, YouTube, and Google+, the company’s extension into the social space. Most of its Web-based products are free, funded by Google’s highly integrated online advertising platforms AdWords and AdSense. Google promotes the idea that advertising should be highly targeted and relevant to users thus providing...