Google discovered a “privacy glitch” that inappropriately shared access to a small fraction of word-processing and presentation documents stored on Google Docs.
“We’ve identified and fixed a bug which may have caused you to share some of your documents without your knowledge. This inadvertent sharing was limited to people with whom you, or a collaborator with sharing rights, had previously shared a document,” Google said in a note they sent to affected users.
So the data was not shared with the world at large, only with those with whom you have collaborated in the past. But that person may have left the company or not have permission to access that particular document. Google estimates that the problem affected only 0.05 percent of documents stored on their service. Although that might seem a small number, given the increased usage of Google Docs that could represent hundreds of thousands of documents.
This highlights potential security issues of Web 2.0 and Cloud Computing. However, local storage is not necessarily more reliable. There seems to be no end to the list of privacy, security and data protection breaches resulting from stolen or lost laptops, USB sticks and even hardcopy documents left on trains.
This is an interesting posting from James Lappin on the TFPL blog. Google docs and the future of document management discusses how Google docs may affect the way organisations collaborate on documents in the future, and gives two examples of how it is currently being used:
“a charity where staff in the marketing department use Google docs to create and store their documents because it allows them to collaborate on documents with people from other parts of the charity (whereas their shared drive is restricted to departmental silos)”
“a bank with a very strong compliance and information security regime, where some colleagues were using Google Docs to create and store business documents in order that they could work on documents at home (corporate systems were extremely slow to access remotely, and banned the sending of word documents as attachments to a web based e-mail address)”.