Google fired dozens of employees from 2018 to 2020 for breaching user data and even for spying on other company employees, according to an internal document leaked by the column Motherboard, on the Vice website.
The report shows investigations into how the search giant’s employees used their access to steal, leak or improperly handle sensitive data. According to the document, Google laid off 36 employees in 2020 over security-related issues.
More than 80% of cases were related to misuse of confidential details, such as transferring internal-only information to third parties. The company also laid off 26 people in 2019 and 18 in 2018 because of security incidents, according to a source who provided the Google document to Motherboard.
The document also outlines other actions Google can take with employees who mishandled data, such as warnings, training and guidance.
In a statement, the company states that “the cases mentioned are mainly related to improper access or misuse of confidential or proprietary information of the company.”
Google noted that “the number of violations, whether deliberate or inadvertent, is consistently low.” The company claims to strictly restrict access to user data by employees, with measures such as the requirement of justification for consulting information and monitoring anomalies.
Data abuse is a problem faced by all technology companies. Other cases previously reported involved companies like Facebook, which had employees using privileged access to information to stalk or spy on users.