Google Sent Private Videos In Google Photos To Strangers

Google has admitted it has made a privacy gaffe that saw it inadvertently share people’s videos located on Google Photos, with complete strangers.

The problem began last November, when a user opted to use the Google Takeout tool to download an archive of their Google Photos content. This tool is typically used when users want to backup their photos or share their photos with another cloud service.

Unfortunately it seems there was a brief glitch that meant that there was a chance that a person’s video could be possibly get exported to strangers’ archives. Oh dear.

Google gaffe

Google began alerting Takeout users to the gaffe this week, which it called a “technical issue”, and a copy of the alert was then published to Reddit.

“We are writing to inform you of a technical issue that affected the Google ‘Download your data’ service for Google Photos between 21 to 25 November 2019,” the Google alert stated.

“Unfortunately, during this time, some videos in Google Photos were incorrectly exported to unrelated users’ archives,” said Google. “If you downloaded data, it may be incomplete, and it may contain videos that are not yours.”

Google said that the underlying issue had been identified and resolved, and it recommended that users perform another export of their content and delete the prior export at this time.

“We apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused,” Google concluded.

According to 9to5Google, the search engine giant said that less than 0.01 percent of Photo users attempting Takeouts was affected. No other Google products were impacted by the flaw.

“We are notifying people about a bug that may have affected users who used Google Takeout to export their Google Photos content between November 21 and November 25,” Google said in a statement to 9to5Google.

“These users may have received either an incomplete archive, or videos – not photos – that were not theirs,” it said. “We fixed the underlying issue and have conducted an in-depth analysis to help prevent this from ever happening again. We are very sorry this happened.”

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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