On Tuesday, several Google Docs users noticed that they were not able to access their files, with Drive displaying a Terms of Service violation error. In a blog post, Google today explained the issue and addressed concerns that arose.
Several users on Tuesday morning reported no longer being able to open certain files they were working on in Docs, while others were locked out mid-edit.
On Tuesday, October 31, we mistakenly blocked access to some of our users’ files, including Google Docs. This was due to a short-lived bug that incorrectly flagged some files as violating our terms of service (TOS).
Afterwards, Google provided a comment to Gizmodo noting that a code push made earlier that morning was at fault and that full access had been restored to users hours after the bug first arose.
Today’s clarification goes on to explain how that error on Tuesday caused Drive to “misinterpret” responses from the antivirus system designed to protect against malware, phishing, and spam. As a result, Docs “erroneously mark[ed] some files as TOS violations, thus causing access denials for users of those files.”
Google goes on to state that these protections are entirely automated and that steps will be put in place to prevent this from occurring again:
Virus and malware scanning is an industry best practice that performs automated comparisons against known samples and indicators; the process does not involve human intervention.