Google Photo users fuming over privacy breach

by Don Sharpe
Don Sharpe
Don Sharpe
Don has been writing professionally for over 10 years now, but his passion for the written word started back in his elementary school days. His work has been... read more
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Users of Google Photo are up in arms over recent revelations that they might have accidentally sent their private videos to strangers while exporting their personal content from the photo-sharing service in the cloud. Some users downloaded incomplete archives as a result of the error.

According to Google, the data privacy breach did not affect all Photo users. Only those who utilized Google Takeout to download their video compilations between November 21 and November 25 last year may have been affected.

Photo users are not happy about Google’s response

Google recently sent notifications to users, saying that it had identified and resolved the glitch. That communication does not seem to calm the nerves of those who think Google should have done more to protect user privacy in the cloud.

In a Tweet relating to the breach, Jon Oberheide, CTO, Duo Security, describes the incident as “unsettling,” considering the impact it may have had on the victims, even if they are small in number.

Just like Oberheide, other members of the public feel that Google should have handled better its communication about the inadvertent disclosure of the personal content. The company notified victims by email, which some people think is rather casual and not commensurate with the gravity of the situation.

Google says it is not in a position to reveal the actual number of affected parties. The lack of details so far is a bit unsettling, especially to victims that would like to know who else might be in possession of their private photos.

Last year in August, a significant number of Google Photo users complained of an error they encountered when using the tool to integrate their PC with their smartphone photos. The search engine giant never offered a swift official response to the problem.

Maybe, this time around, the company will do a press release to provide specifics or a comprehensive diagnosis of the cloud software flaw it just identified. There are many questions that Google should try to answer to restore consumer confidence in its cloud-based photo sharing and storage tool.

It would be interesting to know whether (or not) the reported accidental disclosure was an outcome of a system flaw that a malicious actor could have exploited to cause harm. No matter what happened there, it is a reminder to users that they cannot count on the cloud to always protect their most confidential information.


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