Google receives lawsuit for its confidentiality policies

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Google is facing another major lawsuit and this time it comes from one of the company’s project managers, regarding its confidentiality policies



Working at Google can seem like a dream job for many people. The facilities are fantastic and you get to work with one of the best companies in the world. But, sometimes things can go south and even the employees can turn against Google.

A report from The Information declares that Google received a lawsuit from a project manager who says that the company’s internal confidentiality policies are basically “illegal”. And they go against California’s labor laws. The suit was filed in California’s Superior Court. The employee, who wishes to remain anonymous, filed the lawsuit as John Doe.

According to the document the employee alleges that Google has gone too far and that the company has an internal “spying program” to prevent employees spreading inside information to the media. This program doesn’t allow workers to discuss their workplace conditions, salaries and legal violation inside the company.  It goes on to prevent employees from posting their opinion about the company online, even if they don’t have any knowledge about confidential information.

The most interesting part of the lawsuit is the internal program called “Stop Leaks”. This means that it exists to prevent the leaking of informations from Google to the media.

And according to the John Doe this is how it works:

“The Stopleaks program is managed through an internal website that includes a Chrome extension to facilitate the reporting of alleged “leaks” on the internet. Employees are required under Google policies to report “leaks” to Stopleaks. A violation of Google’s policies can result in termination.

Under its “Stopleaks” program, after a Googler submits a leak report to the Stopleaks site, Google’s “team of Stopleaks super sleuths investigate every leak. The Stopleaks team researches the project/product that was leaked and aims to determine the leak’s origin. From here, [the Stopleaks team] often liaise with other cross-functional Google teams that may contribute additional context to the investigation.”

The purpose of Google’s “Stopleaks” program is to deter employees from asking questions (even of one another), or disclosing any information about Google in violation of their constitutional and statutory rights.”

Also in the lawsuit the employee says that Google’s director of global investigations, intelligence, and protective services, Brian Katz, accused him of spreading information to the press.

And The Information calculated the losses that Google might have through the process:

“Under the Private Attorneys General Act, Google could be fined up to $100 for each of the 12 alleged violations in the suit, multiplied by 65,000 employees. If an allegedly unlawful policy lasted for more than one pay period, the fine doubles to $200 per pay period, per employee, for up to a year. Based on a biweekly pay period schedule, if “Doe” prevails on every allegation in the lawsuit, the maximum fine would be $3.8 billion, with about $14,600 going to each Google employee.”

Of course the above estimations will apply for the worst case scenario. But, the are not many chances that John Doe will win this case.

You can find the whole lawsuit here.

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Author: Martha Papadimitriou

Martha is a journalist, a blog writer, a mother and a bookworm. She studied Journalism and Communication and graduated in 2002. She has a restless spirit and loves to learn new things. Martha also wants to make the world a better place, and when she is not working she enjoys reading and cooking.

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