Responding to allegations from TechCrunch former editor Michael Arrington that Google had accessed his Gmail email address to trace a leak from inside the company, the search giant said this week that it didn’t do so, and that it doesn’t employ such practices, Re/code reports.
“Mike makes a serious allegation here — that Google opened email messages in his Gmail account to investigate a leak,” Kent Walker, Google general counsel Kent Walker said. “While our terms of service might legally permit such access, we have never done this and it’s hard for me to imagine circumstances where we would investigate a leak in that way.”
Following the recent Microsoft leak scandal, which revealed the company can – or at least could – read anyone’s Hotmail email in order to protect its products, it was revealed that other companies in addition to Microsoft have similar terms of service stipulations, including Google and Yahoo.
Arrington wrote on his blog that Google may have done the same thing Microsoft did to find a leaker – read someone’s email – which is how a source of his was identified for leaking details about a Google product and later fired.
“I have first-hand knowledge of this. A few years ago, I’m nearly certain that Google accessed my Gmail account after I broke a major story about Google,” Arrington said. “A couple of weeks after the story broke my source, a Google employee, approached me at a party in person in a very inebriated state and said that they (I’m being gender neutral here) had been asked by Google if they were the source. The source denied it, but was then shown an email that proved that they were the source.”
In the email correspondence between the two, only Arrington used a Gmail account. However, he did not present any actual evidence to back up the claim.
As for Google, the company has a different email snooping issue of its own, having been sued for allegedly data-mining student emails.