Crime, Cyberlaw, Google / Search Engines, Privacy, Technology

Check You Gmail: Google Engineer Accused of Being a Little Evil

An engineer at Google may have abused his unfettered access to users’ account information. Gawker reports that David Barksdale, 27, a former Site Reliability Engineer with Google, allegedly tapped into the accounts of four teenagers, using information from their Gmail, Google Voice, and GTalk chat accounts in order to harass them.

Gawker doesn’t provide much in the way of sources, so I have to assume that this story was relayed to the blog by the teenagers themselves, who are not identified. One example of Barksdale’s alleged harassment is unblocking himself on a teen’s chat list and looking up the name and phone number of one of the teen’s girlfriends and threatening to call her. Given all the damage that could be done raiding someone’s email account, this seems rather unimpressive. More Mean Girls than Enemy of the State-inspired.

The Daniel Faraday lookalike is probably wishing he could use a time travel machine to prevent himself from ever getting involved with the teens. What kind of trouble is he going to get into beyond the humiliation of gracing Gawker’s pages?

Google has confirmed that Barksdale got the g-axe for his misconduct. And the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button is probably not going to work out for him in the legal system.

Michael Arrington at TechCrunch wants justice served. He’d like to see Google press charges against this engineer, as well as another who was previously fired for snooping (though not in under-age accounts).

I spoke with Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, about which laws this engineer should probably Google…

Read on at Forbes.com.

P.S. That’s not a typo in the headline; see here.

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