Over the past two years, Google has been rocked by a number of leaks that revealed plans to re-enter China and executive payout details relating to sexual misconduct. Despite the high-profile and embarrassing nature of these incidents, employee depositions reveal that Google did not investigate the leaks.
Wired today reported on depositions of two Googlers related to a lawsuit filed over the company’s restrictive confidentiality policies. VP of people operations Eileen Naughton and an investigator on the company’s Stop Leaks team revealed that Google did not look into several high-profile leaks.
In August 2017, Google was grappling over an anti-diversity memo written by an employee that decried the company’s inclusivity initiatives. Posted to an internal messaging board, a copy of that document eventually leaked and was published by Gizmodo.
According to the depositions, Google did not investigate the disclosure of the memo to the press. However, Google did look into a leak of employee details that led to doxxing and the cancellation of a company-wide Town Hall.
A more recent incident involved The Intercept learning about Project Dragonfly. Google’s plans on returning to China with a censored search engine and other products were detailed in-depth by the publication. This disclosure led to mass condemnation of Google from both employees and human rights groups. As a result of the outcry, the company halted that project. According to Naughton, no employees were fired for leaking.
Similarly, the company did not investigate or terminate employees that leaked details about executive misconduct. A high profile New York Times report revealed how senior executives like Andy Rubin received large sums on their exit despite claims of sexual misconduct.
In response to Wired’s report, Google argued that its policy of investigating leaks has not changed. It cited a 40% increase in investigations over the mishandling of confidential information in 2018 compared to the prior year. However, it’s not clear how high-profile those investigations were versus the three cases mentioned above that attracted mass spotlight.