Published: Tue, October 09, 2018
Industry | By Faith Ward

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

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

The Journal reported that the Google+ breach exposed Google's "concerted efforts to avoid public scrutiny of how it handles user information" at a time when regulators are the public are trying to do more to hold tech companies to account.

Even though the company claims that it "immediately patched this bug in March 2018" and that it found "no evidence that any developer was aware of this bug", Google chose to disclose the bug many months after it was first discovered.

The data being stolen includes full names, email addresses, birth dates, gender, profile photos, places lived, occupation and relationship status.

Saikali said it was possible that Google could face class action lawsuits over its decision not to disclose the breach.

Up to 438 apps may have used the offending Google+ People API, and the profiles of up to 500,000 Google+ accounts were potentially affected, according to Google. The lawsuit was blocked in the High Court on Monday.

Google plans to shutter the consumer version of Google+, the company has announced in a blog post.

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Just as the Wall Street Journal was posting an article that dove into the data exposure, Google announced Project Strobe.

Companies have to inform a supervisory authority within 72 hours of a personal data breach under the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) - unless the breach is not likely to risk the rights and freedom of affected users.

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

Why is Google+ shutting down?

All these changes are happening in the coming months, giving users more control over their own data. The social network, which was launched in 2011, was initially supposed to be a response to Facebook and Twitter, but it has ceased to exist outside of a handful of niche communities for years.

Besides low usage, Google+ engagement rates are also defeating, with 90-percent of all sessions lasting for under five seconds, according to Alphabet's subsidiary. It also said that it would strengthen Android app permission requirements to give users more fine-grained control over their mobile phone data, and that it would make it harder for apps to access sensitive information, like SMS messages and call records. They do see some companies using it for business purposes and will keep it as an enterprise product, similar to Hangouts. Google Play will limit the types of apps that are allowed to request these permissions-only your default app for the given situation will be able to access this info.

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