Google have been at the center of a rather unpleasant story lately. A google engineer has been caught spying on four underage teens for months.
David Barksdale, a 27 year old ex engineer with Google took advantage of his position as a member of an elite technical group at the company to access user accounts, violating the privacy of at least four minors during his employment. Barksdale met these kids through a technology group in the Seattle area while he was working as a Site Reliability Engineer at Google’s Kirkland, Wash office.
Google fired him after his actions were reported to the company. The length of his actions have not been documented yet, but Gawker are reporting that he tapped into call logs from Google Voice after a 15 year old boy refused to tell him the name of his new girlfriend. After he accessed the kids account to get her phone number and name he then taunted the boy and threatened to call her.
There are apparently more cases involving Barksdale and his aggressive violation of user privacy.
“He accessed contact lists and chat transcripts, and in one case quoted from an IM that he’d looked up behind the person’s back. (He later apologized to one for retrieving the information without her knowledge.) In another incident, Barksdale unblocked himself from a Gtalk buddy list even though the teen in question had taken steps to cut communications with the Google engineer.”
This brings into question whether Google have strict enough staff vetting procedures, especially for an integral technical support employee. At least Google have taken severe action and appear to be treating this severely.