Google fires employee for snooping on users

Vince Coglianese Contributor
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Reporting from San Francisco —

Google Inc. fired a software engineer for snooping on its users’ private information, the Internet search giant confirmed Wednesday.

The 27-year-old employee, David Barksdale, allegedly accessed information about four teenagers he met through a Seattle technology group, according to gossip website Gawker, which reported the incident Tuesday.

Barksdale, a self-described hacker whose job was to maintain and troubleshoot Google sites, had access to users’ personal accounts and information, Gawker reported. His interaction with the teenagers was not sexual in nature, the gossip site said.

Google declined to confirm details about the incident. In a statement, Bill Coughran, Google’s senior vice president of engineering, said Barksdale, an engineer in the company’s Kirkland, Wash., office, broke Google’s “strict internal privacy policies.” Coughran said Google controls the number of employees with access to its systems and is constantly increasing strict security measures.

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