Google Aware Of Large-Scale Data Breach But Chose Not To Disclose It

The flaw exposed user data from 2015 until this past March, according to the report. According to an internal memo viewed by the Wall Street Journal, Google feared disclosing the issue would be detrimental to its reputation and draw unwanted regulatory attention.

Facebook has been under heavy scrutiny about its privacy policy after a British data mining firm Cambridge Analytica was accused of illegally accessing the data of 87 million Facebook users without their knowledge. Google CEO Sundar Pichai was briefed on the decision to not disclose the finding, after an internal committee had already decided the plan, the Journal said.

Google reports that it found no evidence that any developer was aware of the bug, or that any abuse occurred.

Gmail add-ons available to consumers starting next year will be barred from selling user data and be subject to a third-party security assessment that will cost them about $15,000 to $75,000, Google said. It said it would add "more granular" screens for granting permission to access data, and was adding new limits to the data that third-party apps can use. The bug in the API allowed the developers to not just access the private, non-public data of the users who signed up as well as people they are connected to.

The company says it didn't find any evidence that any of the affected personal information was misused. Google+ posts, messages, Google account data, phone numbers, or G Suite content were not accessible.

The tech giant announced the news on the company blog, disclosing the compromised user-privacy issue for the first time, despite knowing about it for seven months.

UN Ambassador Nikki Haley resigning
FILE PHOTO: US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley arrives at UN headquarters in New York, US, September 18, 2017. She also complimented members of Trump's team, including senior advisers Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump .

Given the potential for abuse, and the fact that nearly no one is using Google+, Alphabet opted to take the path of least resistance and yank the doddering network off life support.

Action 1: We are shutting down Google+ for consumers. A document in the WSJ's possession warned that if it was disclosed, it could result in "us coming into the spotlight alongside or even instead of Facebook despite having stayed under the radar throughout the Cambridge Analytica scandal".

Google+ will be shut down over a 10-month period, concluding in August 2019, as Google admits that it never gained the traction they had hoped.

Users' details were exposed due to an error in a feature that allowed people to link their Google+ profile with other applications.

Google says that 90 per cent of Google+ user sessions lasted for less than five seconds.

The review did highlight the significant challenges in creating and maintaining a successful Google+ that meets consumers' expectations.

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