Gawker reported yesterday that Google dismissed engineer David Barksdale for breeching their internal privacy policies. Barksdale was a Site Reliability Engineer and with that position comes access to some of the company’s most sensitive data. Google SREs have to the ability to log into Gmail and Gtalk accounts in order to determine the source of any problems the servers or users might be encountering,
Though it is unclear how many accounts Barksdale may have accessed, it is known for sure that he harassed at least four minors through his position. The former SRE is said to have accessed contacts’ lists, transcriptions, unblocked himself from a user buddy list, and even in one instance threatened to contact a victim’s new girlfriend after finding her information in the boys’ account because he wouldn’t tell Barksdale her name.
Senior VP of Engineering, Bill Coughran issued a statement confirming Barksdale’s dismal due to privacy violations:
“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.”
David Barksdale has yet to confirm the reason in which he was fired, simply saying “you must have heard some pretty wild things if you think me getting fired is newsworthy.”