Engineer fired for privacy violations, Google says

Ex-Google employee reportedly accessed accounts belonging to teenagers

A Google engineer was fired for violating the company's privacy rules, Google said Wednesday, responding to a report that the engineer had improperly accessed the accounts of several teenagers.

"We dismissed David Barksdale for breaking Google's strict internal privacy policies," said Bill Coughran, senior vice president of Google, in a statement.

Barksdale was fired in July because he abused his position as a site reliability engineer at Google office to access Google Voice call records and Gmail and Google Chat accounts belonging to several teenagers, according to Gawker.

As a site reliability engineer, Barksdale had access to databases that contain e-mails, chat logs and other files that belong to Google users, the report said.

Google acknowledged the seriousness of the privacy violations, but said there would always be a need for its engineers to have this level of access to user accounts.

"We carefully control the number of employees who have access to our systems, and we regularly upgrade our security controls -- for example, we are significantly increasing the amount of time we spend auditing our logs to ensure those controls are effective. That said, a limited number of people will always need to access these systems if we are to operate them properly -- which is why we take any breach so seriously," Coughran said.

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