Google Leak Shows Privacy Issues Were Kept Internal for Years


A Google leak reported on Monday by 404 Media revealed six years’ worth of privacy and security issues that Google kept quiet about — including a Google contractor accidentally leaking a Nintendo game release.

The outlet obtained the internal database from an anonymous source and reported that Google confirmed aspects of the leak.

“At Google, employees can quickly flag potential product issues for review by the relevant teams,” Google told 404 Media in a statement. “The reports obtained by 404 are from over six years ago and are examples of these flags—everyone was reviewed and resolved at that time.”

Related: Google Leak Spills the Secret Sauce for Search Rankings — Here’s What to Know

The report illustrates thousands of internal privacy and security issues that Google tracked from 2013 to 2018.

For example, a contractor in 2017 reportedly used their admin access to download and watch a private game trailer on Nintendo’s YouTube channel. They then shared a screenshot of the trailer with a friend, who posted it on Reddit.

A Google internal review deemed the incident “non-intentional.” Nintendo released the trailer in 2017 and launched the game, Yoshi’s Crafted World, on Switch in 2019.

Other privacy issues flagged in the recent leak include Google making YouTube recommendations based on deleted watch history and noting that someone was manipulating customer marketing accounts on its ad platform.

There were also data vulnerabilities, such as the one at Google’s acquisition of Google noted that more than one million user email addresses from the company were publicly exposed for over a year.

A Nintendo Switch gaming system. (Photo by Emanuele Cremaschi/Getty Images)

Waze, which Google acquired in 2013 for $1.3 billion, also had a carpool feature that leaked users’ trips and home addresses.

In another incident, Google accidentally used Google Street View in 2016 to read and store thousands of car license plate numbers.

Related: Google Will Delete Chrome Incognito Browser History: Lawsuit

An employee reported the issue, and Google wiped the data, per the report.

Google had another massive internal leak recently. Last week, 2,500 internal documents showed what the tech giant, which holds 90% of the global search engine market, really thinks about ranking search results.

Some of Google’s internal documents exposed in that leak contradicted its public-facing comments, like how much weight clicks have in rankings.

Related: Google Lays Off, Relocates Hundreds of ‘Core’ Employees

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