Creepy Google Engineer Stalked Teens Online

He was axed after accessing minors' accounts, spying on chats
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Sep 15, 2010 2:03 AM CDT
Is Google the Trojan Horse in your life?   (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, file)

(Newser) – An engineer has been fired after abusing his position at Google to spy on teenage chat transcripts and access their accounts. David Barksdale, 27, breached the privacy of at least four young teens of both sexes as a member of an elite tech group at the company, Gawker reports. He met the teens through a Seattle technology association while working at Google's Washington office. In one case he tapped into the Google Voice call logs of a 15-year-old boy who refused to reveal his girlfriend's name to Barksdale. The engineer then taunted the teen with the information he found and threatened to call the girl, a source says.

Parents took action to block Barksdale from communicating with their children, and complaints were filed with Google. The engineer's motivation wasn't clear—he didn't appear to be sexually predatory, but rather eager to show off his power in Google's inner sanctums. After confirming that Barksdale was fired, a Google spokesman said he was "satisfied that we've taken decisive steps to limit any additional risk." The case raises chilling possibilities for privacy breaches from within Google's walls. Barksdale was one of the company's elite "site reliability engineers," who are privy to the company's most sensitive data and have free access to users' accounts.

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