Privacy: Google Engineer Fired After Spying on Seattle Teens Online
A very disturbing story appeared on Gawker’s website about a 27-year old Google engineer named David Barksdale who was fired from Google’s Kirkland, Washington office after allegedly spying on four teenagers’ online accounts for months. Google has since corroborated the report. Barksdale, who describes himself as a hacker, had met the teens (all minors) at a local technology group and secretly accessed their call logs from Google Voice (Google’s Internet phone service), contact lists, and even chat transcripts. In essence, he cyberstalked them.
Google released a statement about Barksdale’s dismissal for “breaking Google’s strict internal privacy policies,” but also confirmed that a limited number of people will always need to access their systems. Barksdale worked as a site reliability engineer (SRE) and presumably also had access to hundreds of Gmail accounts.
One thing is for certain. With more and more large, private companies like Google controlling the personal data of their users, it will become increasingly difficult to ensure that our privacy is truly protected.
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