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Google has confirmed that it unwittingly disclosed sensitive login and password information pertaining to more than a dozen users.
The information was disclosed three weeks ago as part of Google's freely accessible anti-phishing blacklist.
Google said in a written statement that the problem has since been fixed, and that procedures have been put in place to strip login information from future submissions.
Google Admits to User Data Disclosure [vnunet.com]
The information was collected when users submitted suspected phishing sites through the Google Toolbar browser extension. Several of the URLs that were submitted also contained login and password information.
I will stand by my "doom and gloom" scenario. Data practices are all fine and dandy, but mistakes do happen, hackers do break in, and most importantly, the police will one day demand them.
For the record: this is not just about Google, it applies to all companies.
If you've searched using Google, and you've had the same broadband connection at home for 2-3 years (and a static IP), there's a good chance GOOG knows what you've been thinking about for the past few years. If you use Adwords or AdSense, GOOG knows what income you make through GOOG (and your credit card and home/billing address). If your business depends heavily on GOOG PPC or natural SERP they could roughly estimate your business income. If you use Gmail, well - they know who you've been talking to.
That described me, and when I realised it, i started reducing my dependency on GOOG. That's why I avoid GOOG checkouts - it's another collection point of my personal info.
Matt Cutts' declaration in response to the DOJ subpoena mentioned that GOOG limits access to different areas of the company on a need to know basis; but this statement seemed to be more to emphasise the proprietary nature of the algo.
As anyone in large companies know, (even in financial services companies), multiple data stores aren't difficult to access. And it takes just one disgruntled employee who leaves the company to wreak havoc.
GOOG isn't to blame though, its our own personal choice as to how much information we give one entity.