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Google Engineer Fired for Stalking Minors

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EVERY STEP YOU TAKE, EVERY CHAT YOU MAKE
DailyFeed
By using Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, and Hotmail, every user must accept a bitter truth: All of your emails and chats are vulnerable to the prying eyes of employees. There's just no way around it. To use their services, you accept that potential risk.

But despite that frightening possibility, we go on with our business knowing that it's unlikely that we'll ever encounter or communicate with someone who may have read our private conversations.

Unfortunately for a few Seattle teens, they personally dealt with their digital voyeur. Repeatedly.

Gawker's Valleywag blog broke the story of David Barksdale, a 27-year-old Google engineer who was fired for breaking the company's protocol on privacy, as well as making inappropriate threats toward at least four minors. While working as a site reliability engineer, Barksdale met the kids through a technology group and struck up a friendship. According to Valleywag, he spied on their Google accounts without consent, tapped Google Voice call logs, and threatened to call the girlfriend of a 15-year-old boy after retrieving her name and number.

Barksdale was also accused of quoting a kid's private instant message from a transcript he accessed and even went so far as to unblock himself from a Gtalk buddy list after a teen tried to cut communication with the creepy stalker.

Valleywag's source explained that while the relationship evolved into Unlawful Entry territory, there didn't seem to be anything sexual in nature. Nevertheless, Google rightfully sprung into action after being alerted to Barksdale behavior and promptly fired him on the spot. In a statement, Google's senior vice president of engineering, Bill Coughran said:
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.
Still, it doesn't make up for the fact that anyone had to feel violated by that weird 27-year-old longhair.
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