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Bureaucrats, journalists didn’t make Google Groups chats private, putting confidential info online

Posted Jul 10, 2013 12:04 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Japanese bureaucrats and journalists admittedly failed to set privacy guards when using Google Groups to chat and share documents online, inadvertently revealing confidential information to anyone who accidentally happened upon it or thought to search for it on purpose.

Although the set-up page allows the individual who establishes the group to control who may access it, the default setting makes such discussions and documents public. The material exposed included discussion of treaty negotiations, reports Agence France-Presse.

While no disaster apparently occurred as a result, “It was problematic that the processes around ongoing negotiations could be seen by outsiders. We have taken corrective steps,” an environment ministry spokesman told the French news agency.

A major Japanese newspaper looking into such inadvertent leaks found 6,000, including information about hospital records--and discovered that its own journalists had inadvertently put confidential information online, too, in the form of interview transcripts and and draft stories, the article says.

The incidents serve as a reminder that others should check their Google privacy settings, a Gizmodo post notes.

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