Google Gives Creepy Engineer the Boot for Teenage Spy Games

Paul Lilly

Serving as an unsettling reminder that nothing you do online is ever 100 percent private, it's come to light that Google recently fired one of its engineers for allegedly spying on at least four underage teens.

His name is David Barksdale, a 27-year-old who is said to have used his former position at Google to access users' Gmail, Google Voice, and instant messages without their consent. In one incident, Barksdale is accused of viewing Google Voice call logs of a 15-year-old boy after he refused to tell Barksdale the name of his new girlfriend.

Google didn't go into great detail about Barksdale's alleged misdeeds, but did confirm that he'd been shown the one-way door.

"We dismissed David Barksdale for breaking Google's strict internal privacy policies," Bill Coughran, Senior Vice President of Google's Engineering division, 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 th 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."

Exactly why Barksdale decided to snoop on a group of teens isn't clear. News and gossip site Gawker.com claims to have communicated with Barskdale via email and came to the conclusion that at least part of the reason was to show off the power he had as a member of a group with broad access to the company.

Plenty more on this story here .

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