Google fired dozens of employees for data misuse, accessing private user information
According to leaked documentsBy Rob Thubron 15 comments
A hot potato: Ever worry what tech employees are doing with your private info? A concerning new report reveals that Google fired dozens of workers for data misuse between 2018 and 2020, which includes stealing or leaking corporate information and accessing user or employee data in violation of its policies.
The news comes from an internal Google document obtained by Motherboard that reveals how Google terminated 36 employees in 2020 for security-related issues. Most of the allegations (86%) were for mishandling confidential information, such as transferring internal-only files to outside parties, while 10% were for misuse of systems, which can include accessing user or employee data or helping others to access that data.
There were more firings for security incidents during the previous two years: 26 in 2019 and 18 in 2018. The document states that the terminations aren't the only way Google deals with these situations; it can also hand out warnings, training, and coaching to employees who mishandle data.
"The instances referred to mostly relate to inappropriate access to, or misuse of, proprietary and sensitive corporate information or IP," a Google spokesperson told Vice. "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 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."
This is far from the first case of tech employees abusing their positions. According to a new book (via Insider), Facebook fired 52 people from 2014 to August 2015 for the same thing, including an engineer who used his employee access to track down a woman who had left him after they fought.
Elsewhere, Ring in 2020 said it fired four employees for improperly accessing customers' video footage, and a former Uber worker's lawsuit from 2016 claimed employees tracked celebrities, politicians, and ex-partners.