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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Google secretly collecting data on users – media

Thousands of privacy infringements have been exposed in a leaked copy of an internal database, 404 Media has reported

US tech giant Google has accidentally collected children’s voice data and leaked information on the trips and home addresses of car pool users, according to a report from 404 Media, citing a leaked copy of an internal database.

The report, published on Monday by the technology news website, said that the database contains thousands of privacy-related incidents over the course of six years, from 2013 to 2018.

Read more: Google to Manufacture Pixel Smartphones and Drones in India

404 Media said it obtained the dataset from an anonymous source, and then verified the information. Google has confirmed aspects of its contents, it added.

The incidents reportedly include issues with Google’s own products and data collection practices; vulnerabilities in third-party vendors that Google uses; and mistakes made by staff, contractors, or other people that have impacted Google systems or data.

Read more: Google enhances Android security with new anti-theft features

Most of the previously unreported incidents only impacted a small number of people or were quickly fixed, the report acknowledged.

“Taken as a whole, though, the internal database shows how one of the most powerful and important companies in the world manages, and often mismanages, a staggering amount of personal, sensitive data on people’s lives,” 404 Media wrote.

In one case, a Google speech service recorded the voices of an estimated 1,000 children for about an hour. The team then “deleted all logged speech data from the affected time period,” the report reads.

Another incident involved Google’s Street View transcribing and storing license plate numbers from photos.

Google told 404 Media in a statement that “employees can quickly flag potential product issues for review by the relevant teams,” adding that the reports obtained by 404 are from six years ago and were reviewed and resolved at the time.

“In some cases, these employee flags turned out not to be issues at all or were issues that employees found in third party services,” Google said after 404 Media shared the identifying codes of around 30 incidents with the tech company.

Business Insider noted that the leak comes at a time when Google’s reliability “is already in question” after inaccurate responses from AI Overviews forced them to scale back the feature, the outlet wrote.