Employee sues Google for running an “internal spying program”

Employee sues Google for running an “internal spying program”

A product manager that works for Google is taking the tech giant to court over its confidentiality policies, which allegedly violate California labor laws. According to The Information, the suit was filed today with the California Superior Court in San Francisco. The plaintiff claims that Google runs "an internal spying program" that stimulates employees to report staff members, which are suspected of leaking confidential information to the media. 

The suit describes Google's definition of confidential information as "everything at Google", which also allegedly prohibits staff members from reporting illegal activities that may occur within the company even to Google's own legal advisors. Other policies described in the suit reportedly oblige employees to keep their mouths shut on topics such as workplace conditions and even prevent staff members from "writing a novel about someone working at a tech company in Silicon Valley" without the corporation's approval on the final draft.

The tech giant could pay up to $3.8 billion if the court determines its guilt on all 12 violations of California's labor laws. 75% of the penalty would be collected by the state and the remaining 25% would be distributed evenly among Google's 65,000 employees. That roughly amounts to $14,600 per employee. 

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12 Comments

1. lyndon420

Posts: 6452; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

Why does 75% go to the state? The article makes it sound like the employee is the victim here not the state. What will the state do with the money...fund the NSA?

5. Nico85

Posts: 17; Member since: Dec 15, 2011

California needs the money about as bad as they need water

7. SmartPhoneMobiles

Posts: 174; Member since: Oct 16, 2016

They been spying since google been born.. And gov. has nice secret deal with them, so that's why they have so much money...They already know everything and everyone who signed up with them voluntary.. So it is same with employees..

2. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3090; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

Is this spying program only in the US or worldwide? Of course if this program actually exists.

3. gersont1000

Posts: 473; Member since: Mar 13, 2012

Obviously you didn't read the article.

6. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

The spying program was targeting Google employees, to prevent secrets from being leaked and to prevent bad PR. It even said as much in the title of the article, "EMPLOYEE sues Google for running an INTERNAL spying program."

11. IronTech

Posts: 153; Member since: May 27, 2016

Go kill yourself, buddy!

4. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

Let see whether there any merit to the case in the coming months.

8. AlikMalix unregistered

I see no merit for these allegations. 1. I think a lot of companies expect their employees to report suspicious activity within their company. Leaking confidential info to media is and should be illegal. 2. Anything else, google is more or less openly admits to spying, looking thru, and scanning your emails, purchases, searches all designed to collect info about customer X and provide detailed database to their real customers. When you sign up to google services including buying an android phone you AGREEE AND ACCEPT these terms. --- I'm sure that applies to ALL google employees who should understand this more than others.

9. MrElectrifyer

Posts: 3960; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

1. But as stated in the article, "confidential info" could include illegal practices. Making a policy against reporting company malpractices just calls for further investigation...

10. AlikMalix unregistered

That's called "whistle blowing". And that falls under something else. I'm talking about strictly project development and concepts. I'm pretty sure that google doesn't tell their employees to keep their mouth shut regarding things they see done illegally or unethically.

12. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

I would imagine their policy is to have employees report illegal activities to their managers or to the legal department and let them handle it. As Alik said below, going outside the company to report illegal activities is known as whistleblowing and all companies have policies in place for how to handle such things. Now if the company is knowingly engaging in illegal activities with the full knowledge of the higher ups, that's another matter, as it would be in any company. But what they don't want is someone going outside the company to report it if the management isn't involved because that means bad PR for the company. By going through the proper channels through the company, it gives the impression of a unified front against illegal activities, and results in good PR, and that's no different in an major company.

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