Google says glitch sent people's videos to strangers

By: AFP      Published: 11:54 AM, 5 Feb, 2020
Google says glitch sent people's videos to strangers

Google on Tuesday said that a software glitch resulted in some Photo app smartphone videos being given to the wrong people.

Google was notifying those who may have been affected.

"We are very sorry this happened," Google said in reply to an AFP inquiry.

"We fixed the underlying issue and have conducted an in-depth analysis to help prevent this from ever happening again."

It was estimated that a small fraction of a percent of those who used a "Takeout" tool may have encountered the glitch, which affected people who used the app to export stored videos from Google Photos between November 21 and November 25 of last year.

"These users may have received either an incomplete archive or videos -- not photos -- that were not theirs," Google said.

Google Takeout is a tool intended to make it simple for people to download copies of their data from cloud-hosted services such as email or storage of photos and videos.

Takeout was intended to provide people with an easy way to liberate their personal data from online services. In this case, however, the bug delivered videos to the wrong people.

Earlier, Google and Tinder are under investigation over the processing of European users' data, regulators in Ireland, where both have their regional bases, announced Tuesday.

The Data Protection Commission (DPC) said it had received complaints from various European consumer associations about the lack of transparency in data processing.

It said its inquiry will set out to establish whether Google and Tinder have "a valid legal basis for processing" user data, and whether they meet their "obligations as a data controller with regard to transparency.".

MTCH Technology Services, the corporate name for matchmaking app Tinder, was in the spotlight over "possible systemic data protection issues".

For Google, the DPC said it had received complaints over its "processing of location data".

It is the responsibility of Ireland's regulators to ensure compliance with the European General Data Protection Regulation, as both companies' European headquarters are in the country.

Google told AFP it will "cooperate fully" with the investigation, and says it will work closely with regulators and consumer associations across Europe. 

"In the last year, we have made a number of product changes to improve the level of user transparency and control over location data," it said in a statement.

Google has separately been under DPC investigation since May over data protection in the field of online advertising. 

The location data case was launched after Google's parent company Alphabet released mixed financial results for the last quarter of 2019 on Monday evening, causing its share price to fall. 

Alphabet and Google chief executive Sundar Pichai has detailed four priority areas for 2020, including improving the privacy and security of users.