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Google employees fired for spying on, stealing users’ data: Report

Google (Pixabay/Released)
August 05, 2021

Google reportedly fired dozens of staff members from 2018 to 2020 for using their access to the company’s tools to steal, leak or abuse users’ data, an internal document from Google obtained by Vice’s Motherboard first revealed on Wednesday.  

According to Motherboard, the document shows investigations into how employees take advantage of their positions to abuse users’ data. In 2020, Google fired at least 36 employees for issues relating to data abuse, and 86 percent of all allegations involving security included exploitation of confidential information, like sending personal information to outside actors.

Ten percent of the allegations from last year involved system misuse, which typically includes violating Google’s policies to access user or employee data, assisting others to access data or changing and deleting data, the document said.

A Google spokesperson told Motherboard in a statement: “The instances referred to mostly relate to inappropriate access to, or misuse of, proprietary and sensitive corporate information or IP.”

“Regarding user data, we tightly restrict employee access through a number of industry leading safeguards, including: limiting access to user data to necessary individuals, requiring a justification to access such data, multi-stage review before access is granted to sensitive data, and monitoring for access anomalies and violations,” the statement continued. “The number of violations, whether deliberate or inadvertent, is consistently low. Every employee gets training annually, we investigate all allegations, and violations result in corrective action up to and including termination. We are transparent in publicizing the number and outcome of our investigations to our employees and have strict processes in place to secure customer and user data from any internal or external threats.”

The tech giant fired 26 people in 2019 and 18 in 2018 due to security-related incidents, the individual who gave the internal document to Motherboard said. The document also noted that Google may take other routes when dealing with employees who have misused data, including warnings, training and coaching.

Despite the internal security issues, Google continues to expand its reach. On Thursday, Google revealed new security cameras, including a video doorbell, a floodlight camera to assist people will monitoring driveways or dark areas around users’ homes and a new camera that was made to monitor the inside of a person’s home, ZDNet reported.  

“Google Nest’s mission is to create a home that takes care of the people inside it and the world around it… All of this starts with helping you understand what’s happening within the walls of your home and outside of it,” the company said in a blog post, according to The Pioneer.

“Because we’re all overloaded with notifications every day, our next-generation cameras and doorbell are made to send you the most helpful alerts,” it added.