Accidental or not, another Google leak exposes multiple privacy breaches

Google cannot escape hot water. The tech giant has scrambled to fix its new AI Overview feature, but now, a second leak in a week revealed that it had been collecting sensitive data from users.

An internal Google database was just leaked anonymously to 404 Media, an online news outlet, and it showed huge issues with privacy and security at the company.

The leak contains privacy and security incidents logged by Google employees between 2013 and 2018. Most of the issues arose accidentally – but some didn’t.

For example, the leak revealed that a Google audio feature unintentionally recorded the voices of around 1,000 children, that Waze – owned by Google – was leaking users’ addresses, and that Google Street View was actually scanning, transcribing, and then storing cars’ license plates.

According to 404 Media, Google employees reported many other incidents, “large and small.” On YouTube, another platform owned by Alphabet, Google’s parent company, recommendations were based on users’ deleted watch history.

It turns out that Google, in possession of a huge amount of personal and sensitive user data, can mismanage it all. Besides, not all incidents were simple blunders.

That’s because the leak also showed that a Google contractor used their administrative privileges to log into the gaming company Nintendo’s YouTube account and leak company information ahead of its official release. The information reached Reddit, where a new game, Yoshi, was teased prematurely in 2017.

This is just the latest of Google's troubles. Its new search feature, AI Overviews, was announced amid much fanfare last month, for example, but after users found multiple inaccuracies and began mocking the company, the tool has now been rolled back and is being updated.

Last week, another cache of leaked Google documents showed that the company’s Search Division may be using data to rank websites in a way that’s at odds with its public statements.

SEO experts have accused Google – the subject of the largest antitrust lawsuit in the US in the 21st century – of lying to users about its algorithm, which alone can help determine whether a business succeeds or fails.

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