Google Engineer Stalked, Spied On Teens Through Their Gmail

340x_0914_google_barksdale1rev2It never hurts to forget that gigantic internet companies aren’t necessarily safeguarding your privacy, and that they’re comprised of humans (who can be fallible, and creepy). Gawker writes:

A Google engineer spied on four underage teens for months before the company was notified of the abuses.

David Barksdale, a 27-year-old former Google engineer, repeatedly took advantage of his position as a member of an elite technical group at the company to access users’ accounts, violating the privacy of at least four minors during his employment, we’ve learned. Barksdale met the kids through a technology group in the Seattle area while working as a Site Reliability Engineer at Google’s Kirkland, Wash. office. He was fired in July 2010 after his actions were reported to the company.

It’s unclear how widespread Barksdale’s abuses were, but in at least four cases, Barksdale spied on minors’ Google accounts without their consent, according to a source close to the incidents. In an incident this spring involving a 15-year-old boy who he’d befriended, Barksdale tapped into call logs from Google Voice, Google’s Internet phone service, after the boy refused to tell him the name of his new girlfriend, according to our source. After accessing the kid’s account to retrieve her name and phone number, Barksdale then taunted the boy and threatened to call her.

It seems part of the reason Barksdale snooped through the teens’ Gmail and Gtalk accounts was to show off the power he had as a member of a group with broad access to company data. A self-described “hacker,” Barksdale seemed to get a kick out of flaunting his position at Google, which was the case when, with a friend’s consent, he pulled up the person’s email account, contact list, chat transcripts, Google Voice call logs—even a list of other Gmail addresses that the friend had registered but didn’t think were linked to their main account—within seconds. The friend wasn’t concerned; Barksdale seemed to him to be a “silly,” good-natured nerd.

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  • rtb61

    He learnt the first lesson of Google only the marketdroid group gets to spy on everyone, including all other staff members. The engineers are there for show and marketing purposes, the ones with marketing degrees and doctorates in psychology run the company, the master manipulators.
    Yes we believe, this is not a publicity stunt to show how Google staff are monitored to protect the privacy of it’s customers after Eric Schmidt shot off his foot and jammed the bloody stump in his mouth, “privacy, privacy, you don need no stinkin privacy, we own your name, want another one, we will sell it too you cheap good name, clean, great history”.
    Now how exactly did this story get out?

  • Anonymous

    He learnt the first lesson of Google only the marketdroid group gets to spy on everyone, including all other staff members. The engineers are there for show and marketing purposes, the ones with marketing degrees and doctorates in psychology run the company, the master manipulators.
    Yes we believe, this is not a publicity stunt to show how Google staff are monitored to protect the privacy of it’s customers after Eric Schmidt shot off his foot and jammed the bloody stump in his mouth, “privacy, privacy, you don need no stinkin privacy, we own your name, want another one, we will sell it too you cheap good name, clean, great history”.
    Now how exactly did this story get out?

  • MRPink

    What a nerd.

  • MRPink

    What a nerd.

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