Search engine Google says that it has fired an engineer for violating its privacy policies.
David Barksdale, 27, apparently broke into the accounts of four teenagers without their consent.
Gawker.com claims that the Google engineer repeatedly took advantage of his position as a member of an elite technical group at the company to access users’ accounts.
Barksdale met the kids through a technology group in the Seattle area while working as a Site Reliability Engineer at Google’s Kirkland office.
In an incident this spring involving a 15-year-old boy who he’d befriended, Barksdale tapped into call logs from Google Voice, Google’s Internet phone service, after the boy refused to tell him the name of his new girlfriend. He retrieved her name and phone number, and threatened to call her.
In one case he quoted from an IM that he’d looked up behind the person’s back. In another case he unblocked himself from a Gtalk buddy list.
Gawker said that Barksdale’s harassment did not appear to be sexual. It seemed to be more to show off the power he had over people.
The story placed Google in a bit of hot water however it seems to have moved quickly the moment a complaint was made. Barksdale’s job did give him access to a lot of Google’s network because he was required to fix and repair its databases.