Monthly Archives: September 2013

Serious privacy problem with Google Hangouts

A freak accident just happened to me. A friend wrote me on Google Hangouts that I apparently sent him a message that wasn’t intended for him. While talking with him, a colleague just approached me that he apparently received parts of this conversation too.

While spreading the news, I came across a fresh topic on the Google product forums, where multiple users are complaining about the same issue and the number of complains is growing rapidly.

Since the problem isn’t dependent on what client you’re using (desktop or web), I recommend not using Google Hangouts at all until it is resolved.

Update: Google seems to be investigating the issue.

Update: Google just updated their status page: The issue has been resolved and all services are gradually returning to normal. We will update when full service is restored. No statement in regards to the privacy issue though.

Update: Google just sent an e-mail that they will be putting the chats sent to the wrong person back into the sender’s history for review. This excludes Off The Record messages of course.

Hello,

On September 25 you may have noticed a technical glitch with Google’s chat services, in which some messages intended for one person were sent to another. The issue lasted roughly three and a half hours, and affected a small percentage of users.

We took steps to fix the problem as soon as we discovered it, including removing any messages you sent during that period from everyone’s saved chats. This reduced the chance that people saw content that wasn’t meant for them.

Today we’re putting messages you sent during the glitch back into your saved chats.

No recipients, intended or unintended, will have access to these messages in their saved chats. They’re only visible to you.
Your saved chats will show the contents and unintended recipients of any misdelivered messages.
Some saved chats may not show your intended recipient.

If you’d like to review these saved chats, you can visit them here (https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#search/is%3Achat+newer%3A1380173400+older%3A1380184200). You can delete them entirely, or keep them and start a new conversation. Remember we don’t save off the record chats, so they won’t appear (https://support.google.com/talk/answer/29291?hl=en).

We’re very sorry for what happened, and we’re taking steps to make sure issues like this don’t happen in the future.

Sincerely,

The Google chat team

© 2013, Google Inc., 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, California, 94043
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