Google is contacting a small percentage of Google Photos users to notify them that a bug in the company’s “Takeout” system for downloading your data accidentally sent some users’ private videos to random strangers. Oops…
Jon Oberheide, co-founder and CTO at Duo Security, broke the news on Twitter yesterday when he shared the email that Google is sending to affected users.
“We are writing to inform you of a technical issue that affected the Google ‘Download your data’ service for Google Photos between November 21, 2019 and November 25, 2019,” reads the email. “During this time, some videos in Google Photos were incorrectly exported to unrelated users’ archives.” You can read the full email in Oberheide’s tweet below:
— Jon Oberheide (@jonoberheide) February 4, 2020
The “Download your data” service that Google is referencing is called Google Takeout, which allows you to download “a copy of content in your Google Account to back it up or use it with a service outside of Google.” But during this 5-day window, if you used the service, you may have unwittingly sent some of your videos (photos were not affected) to a stranger. Additionally, the backup you downloaded “may be incomplete, and it may contain videos that are not yours.”
Fortunately the issue was found and fixed on the 25th of November, and 9to5Google reports that only 0.01% of Google Photos users attempting to use Google Takeout were affected by this bug. Still, if you’ve used Google’s Takeout service to download your data, check your email.
“We fixed the underlying issue and have conducted an in-depth analysis to help prevent this from ever happening again,” Google said in a statement to 9to5Google. “We are very sorry this happened.”
Image credits: Header image based on photo by Daniel Romero, CC0