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Report: Snapchat Employees Breached Customers’ Private Data, Including Saved Snaps

Another Big Tech privacy folly.

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A Thursday report released by Motherboard detailed how employees of Snap, Inc., owner of popular social media application Snapchat, breached users’ privacy by accessing their private data.

“Two former employees said multiple Snap employees abused their access to Snapchat user data several years ago,” the report said. “Those sources, as well as an additional two former employees, a current employee, and a cache of internal company emails obtained by Motherboard, described internal tools that allowed Snap employees at the time to access user data, including in some cases location information, their own saved Snaps and personal information such as phone numbers and email addresses.”

Some employees reportedly accessed data via SnapLion, an internal tool originally built for the company to access personal when law enforcement asked for help via court orders or subpoenas.

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The news of the alleged privacy breach comes amid scrutiny of Silicon Valley tech giants, and questions about whether they can be trusted to protect the data of their users. In 2014, Snap was fined by the Federal Trade Commission for “failing to disclose that the company collected, stored, and transmitted geolocation data.”

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“Protecting privacy is paramount at Snap. We keep very little user data, and we have robust policies and controls to limit internal access to the data we do have. Unauthorized access of any kind is a clear violation of the company’s standards of business conduct and, if detected, results in immediate termination,” a Snap spokesperson told Motherboard in a statement.


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