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Google engineer fired for accessing teens’ Gmail, chat logs


Google this week confirmed that it fired an engineer who accessed the Gmail and Google Voice accounts of several minors and taunted those children with the information he uncovered, PC Magazine reports. David Barksdale worked in Google’s Kirkland, Wash., office as a site reliability engineer, where he had access to user accounts. As first reported by Gawker, Barksdale accessed the Gmail and Google Voice accounts of several teenagers he met through a local technology group, and made them aware of the data he’d uncovered. After receiving complaints from the teenagers’ parents, Google quietly fired Barksdale in July 2010. “We dismissed David Barksdale for breaking Google’s strict internal privacy policies,” Bill Coughran, senior vice president of engineering at Google, said in a statement. “We carefully control the number of employees who have access to our systems, and we regularly upgrade our security controls—for example, we are significantly increasing the amount of time we spend auditing our logs to ensure those controls are effective. That said, a limited number of people will always need to access these systems if we are to operate them properly—which is why we take any breach so seriously.”

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