Google exposed personal data of nearly 500,000 and didn't disclose it

Wall Street Journal report: Google exposed private data of Google+ users, refused to disclose the breach

Info that was not exposed includes email messages, Google+ timeline posts, direct messages with other users, phone numbers and "any other type of communication data".

Speaking about the exposed data, Google said on Monday: "We found no evidence that any developer was aware of this bug, or abusing the API, and we found no evidence that any profile data was misused".

Shares of Google's parent company, Alphabet Inc, were down 2.6% following the news. In fact, usage is pretty minimal on the site, with "90 percent of Google + user sessions" being "less than five seconds".

The bug, which went undiscovered from 2015 until March of this year, according to The WSJ, allowed developers to access personal data from the connections of people who had installed their app, even if those people didn't give permission for their information to be accessed. The Google+ bug that's been discovered and disclosed was located in the Google+ People API.

So the company felt that the site simply wasn't worth maintaining between its minimal traffic and its security threats, hence the ten-month period for users to migrate whatever data they need before it's taken offline in August 2019.

Upon discovering the bug, Google patched it, but opted not to disclose it to the public out of fear of regulatory pressure and unfavorable comparisons to Facebook's Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal.

In weighing whether to disclose the incident, the company considered "whether we could accurately identify the users to inform, whether there was any evidence of misuse, and whether there were any actions a developer or user could take in response, a Google spokesman told WSJ". The bug gave apps access to information on a person's Google+ profile that can be marked as private.




Now, users will be given greater control over what account data they choose to share with each app.

We believe it occurred after launch as a result of the API's interaction with a subsequent Google+ code change.

Along with this, Google will also force app developers to provide more detailed explanations of what it intends to do with your Google Account if it's requesting access to it. Still, outside app makers were not supposed to have access to private profile information. It will also stop allowing contact interaction data available through the Android Contacts API. Google plans to turn Google+ into an Enterprise-focused product.

The news comes as Silicon Valley companies have been increasingly scrutinized for their data collection practices.

What's more, Google says these apps will have to agree to new rules around handling Gmail data and will be subject to 'security assessments'.

Google has thus far been able to defer much of the criticism to Facebook and Twitter, but the Google+ bug may thrust it further into the spotlight.

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