Google general counsel says Michael Arrington is making a serious allegation
Michael Arrington (pictured above), the founder of TechCrunch and Crunchfund, wrote a personal blog post earlier this week that said he believed Google spied on his Gmail account after breaking a major story about the search giant. Google directly responded to Arrington’s blog post.
“A few years ago, I’m nearly certain that Google accessed my Gmail account after I broke a major story about Google,” said Arrington on his personal blog Uncrunched. “I certainly freaked out when this happened, but I never said anything about it because I didn’t want people to be afraid to share information with TechCrunch. But I became much more careful to make sure that communications with sources never occurred over services owned by the companies involved in the story.”
Google denied that it spied on Arrington. Spying on users is a sensitive topic nowadays due to the NSA controversy. Google is also facing a lawsuit in regards to data-mining student e-mails.
“Mike makes a serious allegation here ? that Google opened email messages in his Gmail account to investigate a leak,” stated Google general counsel Kent Walker. “While our terms of service might legally permit such access, we have never done this and it’s hard for me to imagine circumstances where we would investigate a leak in that way.”
Arrington made the allegation shortly after Microsoft admitted to accessing a blogger’s Hotmail account due to suspicions about an employee that possibly leaked pre-released Windows software through e-mail. Microsoft’s terms of service allows the company to access user communication in order to “protect the rights or property of Microsoft or our customers.” The terms of service for Gmail and Yahoo! Mail also has similar privileges.
Apparently, Arrington’s source is a former Google employee that was apparently drunk at a party. That employee reportedly approached Arrington and said he or she had been “shown an email that proved that they were the source” by people at Google that investigated the leak. The e-mail was sent from a non-Google e-mail account to Arrington’s Gmail account. This is why he believes Google accessed his Gmail account.
“A little while after that my source was no longer employed by Google,” added Arrington.