Alphabet CEO Larry Page. Photo by Bloomberg.
Exclusive
Google

Employee Lawsuit Accuses Google of ‘Spying Program’

By  |  Dec. 20, 2016 1:15 PM PST
Photo: Alphabet CEO Larry Page. Photo by Bloomberg.

A Google product manager is suing the company over its internal confidentiality policies, saying they breach California labor laws. Among other things, the lawsuit alleges Google runs an internal “spying program” which relies on employees voluntarily reporting other employees who might have leaked information.

The lawsuit alleges that Google warns employees to not put into writing concerns about potential illegal activity within Google, even to the company’s own attorneys, because the disclosures could fall into the hands of regulators and law enforcement. It also alleges that confidentiality provisions include a prohibition on employees writing “a novel about someone working at a tech company in Silicon Valley,” without Google signing off on the final draft.

The suit follows a complaint filed earlier this year with the National Labor Relations Board that raised similar issues, which  The Information wrote about in June. A person familiar with the matter confirmed the complaint and lawsuit were filed by the same employee. Google has since amended its Data Classification Guidelines, which were the subject of the labor complaint, according to the Monday lawsuit. If the employee is successful in the lawsuit, it could have broad implications for Silicon Valley, forcing companies to relax their tight grip on confidential information.

Get access to exclusive coverage
Read deeply reported stories from the largest newsroom in tech.
Latest Articles
 
The Takeaway Media/Telecom
The Next Big News Disruption
Anyone who works in media—and especially in news—can feel the change. Everything about this business, from the editorial content to the talent to the (restless) energy of virtual newsrooms, is growing more intense.The pandemic is obviously a big part of the story. But there’s something bigger going on: a new phase of disruption as powerful as the last—if not more powerful. The last sea...
Latest Briefs
 
Splunk Adopts Permanent Remote Work Policy
New Software Platform The Archivist Raises $2 Million From Ashton Kutcher, Edward Norton
Ant Group Looks to Revamp Healthcare Service Amid Beijing’s Crackdown
Stay in the know
Receive a summary of the day's top tech news—distilled into one email.
Access on the go
View stories on our mobile app and tune into our weekly podcast.
Join live video Q&A’s
Deep-dive into topics like startups and autonomous vehicles with our top reporters and other executives.
Enjoy a clutter-free experience
Read without any banner ads.
Org Charts Google
At Booming Google, Search Chief Gives More Love to Product Managers
Even as Google’s business booms and hiring accelerates, senior leaders have made changes to the unit housing its biggest moneymakers—web search and advertising.
Photos by Bloomberg; Illustration by Mike Sullivan
Exclusive Facebook
Zuckerberg’s Plan to Repair Facebook’s Image: More Zuckerberg
During a companywide Q&A with Facebook employees last Thursday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg turned to a question about a recent uptick in posts on his Facebook page, including a joke he made referencing the actor Vin Diesel a few days prior.
Photo: Bloomberg
Opinion Venture Capital Startups
Why the Smart Money Is Headed to Europe
For years, Europe has run a distant second to the U.S. when it comes to creating and supporting tech startups.
Branded president Michael Ronen. Photo provided by Branded
The Big Interview Venture Capital Startups
Branded Joins Frenzy of Startups Acquiring Amazon Merchants, Finds Profits
Michael Ronen recently learned more than he ever thought he’d know about soap. Ronen runs Branded, a startup that buys up successful small businesses who sell their wares on Amazon.
Data Point
Inside Rounds Hit Record $30 Billion as Investors Double Down
Venture capitalists may be getting too comfortable with marking up their own portfolios. The number of inside rounds, or VC deals in which only a startup’s previous investors participate, reached a high of over 1,000 in the U.S.
Didi’s offices in Hangzhou, China. Photo: Bloomberg
Exclusive Asia E-commerce
China’s Ride-Hailing Giant Didi Plans Separate IPO of Grocery Business
Didi Chuxing, a Chinese ride-hailing giant that plans to go public in New York this summer, is already making plans to spin off its newly created grocery-delivery service a year or two after the initial public offering.