Evidently, if there's one company you don't mess around with, it's Google. The Internet giant fired a Site Reliability Engineer after he was caught using his internal clearances to spy on people, including four minors. Meanwhile, new details about the highly anticipated Google music store have been leaked.
27-year-old David Barksdale says it was simply an act of showing off, but account holders were less than amused when they found out he was snooping around their Gmail and Gtalk accounts. In one particular case, Barksdale hacked into the Google Voice account of his own 15-year-old friend after he refused to reveal the name of his new girlfriend. After retrieving her name and phone number, Barksdale allegedly taunted the boy and threatened to call her.
Drama aside, our primary focus is not on the creepy factor (level 9), or the implications that come with such a huge difference in age (sources says that the harassment was not sexual in nature), but the company's internal security policies.
Bill Coughran, Senior Vice President of Google Engineering, tried to clear the air with the following statement.
“We dismissed David Barksdale for breaking Google’s strict internal privacy policies. We carefully control the number of employees who have access to our systems, and we regularly upgrade our security controls–for example, we are significantly increasing the amount of time we spend auditing our logs to ensure those controls are effective. That said, a limited number of people will always need to access these systems if we are to operate them properly–which is why we take any breach so seriously.”
Barksdale himself shrugged off the allegations via e-mail, stating that we all must have heard some pretty wild things if we think him getting fired is newsworthy.
Rumors of the Google music store have been a lot more solid as of late. According to Billboard magazine Google's upcoming marketplace would be much like iTunes, charging users a small amount of money per song. An additional yearly fee of US$ 25 price tag includes a digital locker where users can store, stream or download their libraries from any location.
If and when Google and Apple go head to head in this arena, the music industry would surely benefit.
"Anonymous sources say Google proposes splitting half the profits from subscriptions with rights holders and publishers receiving a 10.5 percent share," wrote Dan Hope of TechNewsDaily. "It's not clear what percent of actual music sales the labels would retain. The same sources say pricing will likely be similar to the $0.99 track and $10 album prices seen through other services."
Google Relaunches Instantiations, Charges Zero
Early last month, Google quietly acquired Instantiations, a company known for its Eclipse Java developer tools. This week the Internet giant relaunched the former Instantiations products under the Google brand and made them free:
GWT Designer: Tools that enable Java developers to quickly create Ajax user interfaces using Google Web Toolkit
CodePro AnalytiX: Automated software code quality and security analysis tools to improve software quality, reliability, and maintainability
WindowBuilder Pro: Java graphical user interface designer for Swing, SWT, GWT, RCP, and XWT UI frameworks
WindowTester Pro: Test GUI interactions within Java client rich applications for the SWT and Swing UI frameworks
Interested? Download them here.