Google blames 'human error' for data leak

The company is apologizing to some users of its business listings service

Google is apologizing after it mistakenly e-mailed potentially sensitive business data last week to other users of its business listings service.

The company's Local Business Center allows businesses to create a listing for Google's search engine and Maps application, as well as add videos, coupons or photos.

Google then provides data on how customers found the listing, showing search terms people used before clicking the listing and other data such as the geographic location of someone who looked up driving directions to the business.

Google will send reports to those who are signed up. Early last week, Google sent the reports to third parties by mistake. The mistake affected several thousands businesses registered with Local Business Center, of which there are more than a million.

"Shortly after sending the newsletter to a portion of our users last night, we discovered that some e-mails included statistics for the wrong business," Google said in a written statement. "We promptly stopped sending any further e-mails and investigated the cause, which we found to be a human error while pulling together the newsletter content. We'd like to apologize to all the business owners impacted and assure them that we're fixing the process that led to this mistake."

People who received the data then began to publicize the incident, realizing the privacy implications. Chicago-based Internet consultant David Dalka wrote on his blog that he received information regarding the listing for Boscos, a restaurant in Tennessee that brews its own beer.

"My first thought was this was potentially some kind of joke by someone at Google due to the subject matter resolving to beer, which has a long history of pranks in SEO [search engine optimization] circles," Dalka wrote.

The data included the number of times Boscos' listing appeared in Google's local search results, the number of times it had been clicked on and the number of follow-through clicks on the actual business' Web site.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Googledata leaks

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Brother MFC-L3745CDW Colour Laser Multifunction

Learn more >

Mobile

Exec

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?