Some Snap Inc. employees used the company's dedicated tools for accessing data to spy on users. Multiple employees have abused their privileged access to these tools to snoop on Snapchat users' personal data, according to a new report by Motherboard.
Two former Snap Inc. employees said "multiple Snap employees" abused their Snapchat data tools access several years ago. These informants described internal tools that allowed people within the company to access crucial and sensitive user information, including, in some cases, location information, saved Snaps, phone numbers, and email addresses.
Snapchat Employees Abused User Data
Abuse of these internal tools happened at least "a few times," according to the former employees. One of the tools described in the report is something called the SnapLion, which was reportedly designed so the company can access user data for law enforcement purposes. Snap Inc.'s Spam and Abuse team, Customer Ops team, and security staff all have access to SnapLion. Internal emails Motherboard has obtained reveal that one employee used the tool to locate someone's email address.
As of this time, Snap Inc. has yet to address these claims. But abuse of data, especially, within tech companies, has become far too common. Employees inside Facebook and Uber, for instance, abused their access to data to abuse women. Even in non-tech outfits, it happens. At a police department in Florida, a cop targeted at least 150 women for dates by searching an internal database. Several employees in the National Security Agency used surveillance tools to spy on past and current relationships.
Given those examples, it's hard to believe this behavior will stop anytime soon, especially within companies that store a great deal of information from their audiences. Tools in the vein of SnapLion are an industry standard in the tech world, according to Motherboard, as companies need to be able to access user data for various purposes, chiefly legal ones. It's not clear how exactly the abuse at Snap Inc. occurred, or what specific system or process the employees used to access data.
What Snap Inc. Has To Say
Addressing the report, a spokesperson for Snap Inc. said it keeps little data and has robust policies to limit access to it.
"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."