Irish data regulator seeks information from Google on security bug

The WSJ report said that a memo, prepared by Google's legal and policy staff and shared with senior executives, warned that disclosing the incident would likely trigger "immediate regulatory interest" and invite comparisons to Facebook's leak of user information to data firm Cambridge Analytica.

Per WSJ, a "software glitch" allowed user data to be potentially exposed to unwanted eyes from 2015 all the way through March 2018 when Google learned about it.

"The Data Protection Commission was not aware of this issue and we now need to better understand the details of the breach, including the nature, impact and risk to individuals and we will be seeking information on these issues from Google", the Irish regulator said.

As many as 438 applications had access to the unauthorized Google+ data, according to the Journal.

Impact: We're still months away from Google+'s ultimate demise, and even though Google nearly certainly will not change its decision, some users are still hoping they can change that via Change.org petition.

But Google+ and the company's other experiments with social media struggled to win over users because of complicated features and privacy mishaps. Google will also work with developers to give them time to adjust the required permissions for apps and services that will be affected by the changes.

Sources have told the Wall Street Journal that Google's social network, had a major vulnerability that allowed app developers to collect private data - name, date of birth, gender, relationship status, job title and employer as well as profile pictures - of users who are related to those who signed up for the app. For one thing, soon, only Android apps which the user has assigned as their default for use will be allowed to request certain permissions like making calls and sending SMS.

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Several policies Google introduced on Monday are created to curb the data accessible to developers offering mobile apps on the Google Play store or add-on apps for sending and organising Gmail messages.

Earlier this year, Google started a project to review third-party developer access to Google accounts through the use of APIs. Google declined to comment beyond its blog post. Google CEO Sundar Pichai was allegedly briefed on the company's plan not to notify users about the bug. Given these challenges and the very low usage of the consumer version of Google+, we chose to sunset the consumer version of Google+.

Google said it had reviewed the issue, looking at the type of data involved, whether it could accurately identify the users to inform, whether there was any evidence of misuse, and whether there were any actions a developer or user could take.

Google will continue to operate Google+ as an enterprise product for companies.

Google has thus far been able to defer much of the criticism to Facebook and Twitter, but the Google+ bug may thrust it further into the spotlight.

To make the closure of the service as seamless as possible, Google says it'll implement a "wind-down" period over the next 10 months with the goal to have everyone off Google+ and officially pull the plug by the end of August 2019.

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