Computing giant Google has terminated four employees after accusing them breaching its data security policies.
According to the search giant, the dismissals were the direct result of an investigation that found the employees had accessed the projects, calendars and emails of other members of its staff.
In an email obtained by Bloomberg, Google explained that the actions taken by the now former employees went against its open culture, saying:
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“We have always taken information security very seriously, and will not tolerate efforts to intimidate Googlers or undermine their work, nor actions that lead to the leak of sensitive business or customer information. This is not how Google’s open culture works or was ever intended to work.”
Firing the four employees could lead to increased tension among Google's activist staff members who have begun to protest against some of the company's projects as well as how it handled sexual harassment allegations.
Although the company did not specifically identify which employees were fired, software engineer Rebecca Rivers announced on Twitter that she was “being terminated”. Rivers was one of Google's employees who objected to the company's work with US Customs and Border Protection and her termination has helped fuel accusations that it was trying to silence activist employees.
In a statement posted online, staff members called out Google over the firings claiming that the company was trying to prevent them from unionizing, saying: “With these firings, Google is ramping up its illegal retaliation. This is classic union busting dressed up in tech industry jargon, and we won’t stand for it.”
After leading global staff walkouts over the company's sexual harassment policy, Meredith Whittaker left Google but she has also chimed in on these latest dismissals, calling them “illegal” and “craven retaliation”. However, Google stands by its decision and says that the employees were let go for “clear and repeated violations of our data security policies”.
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