Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Google Sent Private Videos in Google Photos to Strangers

Abner Li (via Hacker News):

Google this evening began alerting Takeout users about the “technical issue.” From November 21-25, 2019, those that requested backups could have had videos in Google Photos “incorrectly exported to unrelated users’ archives.”

In requesting a backup, some of your videos — but not pictures — might be visible to random users that were also downloading their data through Google Takeout. The company did not specify what media was affected beyond “one or more videos in your Google Photos account was affected by this issue.”


Another implication is that the Google Photos archive you downloaded during that five-day period is incomplete and missing some of your videos, while strangers’ media might be present.

Tom Warren:

Google’s nonchalant email alerting users doesn’t provide any details on how many people were affected, nor the amount of individual videos that were distributed incorrectly per account. Google fixed the issue after five days, and 9to5Google reports that less than 0.01 percent of Google Photos users who used Takeout were affected. Google Photos has over 1 billion users, so even a small percentage will impact a significant number of people. Google has apologized “for any inconvenience this may have caused.”


The usual argument for using “cloud” over managing your own files/data is that it’s very hard to safely manage your own data without making mistakes (data loss, etc). However, this is an example of how companies like Google also make mistakes. Furthermore, when Google/FB makes a mistake (like leaking your private data) they do it at a global scale.

I offboarded myself from all of Google’s services a while ago, but I also think “cloud” is dead, at least in the cases where the cloud service holds the encryption keys on my behalf. I don’t trust, and never will trust, any company to hold on to my data without either selling it to a third party or accidentally leaking it.

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