Google fired 80 employees for abusing user data and spying on people, with some even sharing personal information outside the company, a new report says

Sundar pichai
Google CEO Sundar Pichai Carsten Koall/Getty Images
  • Google fired dozens of employees from 2018 to 2020 for accessing users’ personal data.
  • Motherboard reports that some employees used the tools to access other employees’ information.
  • Other tech companies, like Facebook, have reportedly experienced similar situations of data abuse.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Google fired dozens of employees for abusing internal tools to access user data, Vice’s Motherboard reported Wednesday citing internal company documents about its investigation.

In some cases, according to the report, some Google employees spied on other employees using the tools, which would violate Google’s policies.

The company fired 36 employees last year, most of which were for improperly handling confidential information, like sharing it with people outside the company, according to the document viewed by Motherboard. The company fired 18 people in 2018 and 26 in 2019 for security-related reasons, according to the report.

A Google spokesperson told Insider: “We tightly restrict employee access through a number of industry leading safeguards, including: limiting access to user data to necessary individuals, requiring a justification to access such data, multi-stage review before access is granted to sensitive data, and monitoring for access anomalies and violations.”

The spokesperson also said that the reported instances concern “inappropriate access to, or misuse of, proprietary and sensitive Google corporate information or IP.”

The news comes after a new book found Facebook employees similarly abused their access to user data.

According to “The Ugly Truth: Insider Facebook’s Battle for Domination,” Facebook fired 52 people between 2014 and August 2015 for accessing user data for personal reasons. One engineer used his access to Facebook user data to track a woman he was traveling with from their hotel room after they had a fight.

Other tech companies have experienced similar instances of their employees exploiting user data. Snapchat employees abused their access to data several years ago to spy on people using internal tools, Motherboard reported in 2019.