Google Fixes Document-Sharing Privacy Flaw

 
 
By Brian Prince  |  Posted 2009-03-09
 
 
 

Google has fixed a glitch in its document-sharing system that caused private Google Docs documents to be shared accidentally.

According to Google, fewer than .05 percent of Google Docs documents were affected by the privacy breach.

"As we noted in the Google Docs Help Forum yesterday, we've identified and fixed a bug where a very small percentage of users shared some of their documents inadvertently," Google Docs Product Manager Jennifer Mazzon wrote in a blog post. "The inadvertent sharing was limited to people with whom the document owner, or a collaborator with sharing rights, had previously shared a document. The issue affected so few users because it only could have occurred for a very small percentage of documents, and for those documents only when a specific sequence of user actions took place."

Google said the bug did not affect spreadsheets. As part of the fix, Google used an automated process to remove collaborators and viewers from the documents identified as having been affected. The company then e-mailed the document owners to point them to their affected documents in case they wanted to share them again.

"We're sorry for the trouble this has caused," Mazzon continued. "We understand our users' concerns (in fact, we were affected by this bug ourselves) and we're treating this very seriously. We hope this explanation provides greater clarity."

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