Alphabet Inc’s Google exposed the private data of hundreds of thousands of users of its Google+ social network and opted not to disclose the issue partly due to fears of regulatory scrutiny, the Wall Street Journal said, citing unnamed sources. A software glitch in the social site gave outside developers potential access to private Google+ profile data between 2015 and March 2018, when internal investigators discovered and fixed the issue, the report said, citing documents and people briefed on the incident.
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Shares of Alphabet Inc were down 2.2 per cent at $1142.43.
The report said the company is planning to announce a sweeping set of data privacy measures that include permanently shutting down all consumer functionality of Google+, as part of its response to the incident.
A memo, prepared by Google’s legal and policy staff and shared with senior executives, warned that disclosing the incident would likely trigger “immediate regulatory interest” and invite comparisons to Facebook’s leak of user information to data firm Cambridge Analytica, the report said.
Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai was briefed on the plan not to notify users after an internal committee had reached that decision, according to WSJ.
“Whenever user data may have been affected, we go beyond our legal requirements and apply several criteria focused on our users in determining whether to provide notice,” a Google spokesman said in a statement to WSJ.