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Google Photos sent private videos to strangers, blames Takeout feature bug

By: Tech Desk | New Delhi |

Updated: February 5, 2020 12:26:35 pm

Google admits that it exchanged private videos of Google Photos users in November last year.

In a privacy scare, Google has admitted that private videos of some Google Photos users were incorrectly exported to other people’s accounts. The company blamed this mix-up on a “technical issue” in the ‘Takeout’ service that allows users to download their data. Google says a small number of users were impacted from November 21 to 25 last year, though it did not give an exact number.

Google has sent out emails to impacted users warning them about the problem. The email does not clarify how many users were affected by the issue or how many videos were exported to other users. A user shared the screenshot of the email on Twitter where Google says, “If you downloaded your data [during the affected period], it may contain videos that are not yours.”

Private videos exchanged

Basically, if someone put in a ‘Download your data’ export request for Google Photos between November 21, 2019, and November 25, 2019, there’s a chance that “one or more videos” from the account was exported to an unrelated user’s archive. There’s also a chance that the data downloaded by the user could be incomplete and may contain videos from someone else.

[Follow these simple steps to transfer Google Photos to another account]

What did Google say?

Google issued an apology and said that the issue has been identified and resolved. According to a report by 9to5Google, less than 0.01 per cent of Google Photos users used the Google Takeout service and were affected. However, since Google Photos has over 1 billion users, such a small per cent translates to a big user base.

“We are notifying people about a bug that may have affected users who used Google Takeout to export their Google Photos content between November 21 and November 25,” a Google spokesperson told 9to5Google.

“These users may have received either an incomplete archive or videos — not photos — that were not theirs. We fixed the underlying issue and have conducted an in-depth analysis to help prevent this from ever happening again. We are very sorry this happened.”

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Updated: February 8, 2020 — 2:28 am

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