Google has been shaken by a couple of scandals lately. Through pressure from its employees, it had to let go of a custom censored search engine for China, and when the world got to know how poorly the company handled sexual harassment, workers orchestrated a global walkout to make their executives aware how unhappy they were with the situation. As a consequence, Google appears to be on the way to become a less open company, as an internal email made the rounds last Thursday where employees are threatened to be fired when they access classified information.
The report comes courtesy of BuzzFeed News, who were tipped by an employee who received the mail (oh, the irony). Basically, the email titled "An important reminder on data classifications" states that the company is getting stricter about staff accessing so-called "need to know" documents without permissions. In a worst-case scenario, those workers could be fired, although Google makes it clear that it would only do so if information was intentionally leaked, or if it risks users privacy and data safety. Still, this move probably won't help employees feel like equals with their executives.
This new language around classified and confidential data isn't an isolated incident at Google. BuzzFeed News reports that the company has been buttoning up against its own workers over the last couple of months. Google's weekly all-staff meeting isn't recorded and perpetually distributed to everyone at the company anymore, and the executives stopped taking questions from staff during it.
This is a broad shift from Google's reputation as an open and inclusive company that tries to treat all employees equally and give them access to its internal decision-making process. Let's hope this trend doesn't continue, as this has always been a big part of the company's appeal.
- BuzzFeed News