According to reports, Google has dismissed one of its engineers named David Barksdale, for breaching Google's internal privacy policies. Google did not provide any details about the engineer's offenses. However, a website Gawker.com has revealed that, Barksdale worked as a “Site Reliability Engineer” at Google's Kirkland, Washington office. The 27-year-old engineer was shown the door, when Google found out that, he was allegedly accessing Gmail accounts of four teenagers without their consent repeatedly. As a Site Reliability Engineer, Barksdale had access to some of the company’s most classified data.
All Google SREs have access to log into Gmail and Gtalk accounts in order to ascertain the source of any technical issues, the servers or users might be encountering. Till now, it is unclear that how many accounts Barksdale may have accessed. Barksdale has said to have gained access to contacts’ lists, and transcriptions of the four accounts.
We dismissed David Barksdale for breaking Google’s strict internal privacy policies. 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” said Bill Coughran, Senior VP of Engineering.
The dismissal comes during a time when, a lot of debate is going on in the US, over the access of personal information, collected by Google and Facebook.