Snooping Google Engineer Could Face Jail Time
Engineer who spied on teen chat logs may have broken federal law
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 17, 2010 3:40 AM CDT
A Google security guard rides a vehicle in front of Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.    (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

(Newser) – A Google engineer who abused his access to data to snoop on teenagers' chat logs and harass them could face up to 5 years in jail if government officials decide to prosecute him. David Barksdale's spying on Google Voice and Google Talk accounts definitely wasn't "in the normal course of business," so he is in breach of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, TechEye notes.

First-time violators of the ECPA tend to receive a fine instead of jail time, although Barksdale, who Google fired after receiving complaints from parents, may also have run afoul of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. "We’ve seen cases like this before, where someone got access to someone’s email box and the government prosecuted them under both statutes, a lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation tells Forbes. For other stories on online privacy issues, click here.

 

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