Google Seeks Access To User Data as It Fires Engineer

Google will be getting deeper into social networking and users’ data. That’s the word Tuesday from CEO Eric Schmidt — on the same day that Google announced it had fired a software engineer for improper access to customers’ private information.

Schmidt said his company is looking to embed new social-networking functionality throughout its product line, and he is calling on Facebook to provide greater access to members’ information, with their permission. Schmidt made the remarks Tuesday at the Google Zeitgeist conference in Scottsdale, Ariz.


‘Other Ways’ To Get Info

Schmidt said that Google hopes to arrange for permission-based access to contact lists of Facebook users, to let them to increase their social network via Google’s properties and functions. He noted that Gmail users already have the ability to give Facebook access to their contact list, so they can see which contacts are on both services.

“The best thing that would happen is for Facebook to open its data,” he said, according to The Wall Street Journal. He then added, cryptically, that if it is not made accessible, “there are other ways to get that information.”

There have been rumors that Google is developing a Facebook competitor whose working title is Google Me. Google’s YouTube, in particular, is expected to get more social-networking functionality, such as the ability to notify friends when a given video is popular among a group. The company is also planning for social gaming on its various properties, and is looking to get permission-based access to user data on the photo-sharing site Flickr, owned by Yahoo, and on Twitter.


Privacy Issues

Even as it moves deeper into social networking, Google is dealing with issues relating to privacy violations. In a statement Tuesday, Google Senior Vice President of Engineering Bill Coughran announced that engineer David Barksdale was dismissed for breaking the company’s “strict internal privacy…

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