Things aren't all search this and send that at Google. Being one of the biggest companies in the world, Google is sure to come under fire every now and then. Currently Google is under fire for allegedly data-mining students emails. Which only makes things worse when Google is also being accused of opening Michael Arrington former TechCrunch editor's emails to find out who his sources were.
Arrington had a major story about Google back when he was an editor for TechCrunch, and according to him, that put him under the microscope. Arrington says, "A few years ago, I'm nearly certain that Google accessed my Gmail account after I broke a major story about Google," these allegations go further on Arrington's personal blog. "I certainly freaked out when this happened, but I never said anything about it because I didn't want people to be afraid to share information with TechCrunch. But I became much more careful to make sure that communications with sources never occurred over services owned by the companies involved in the story."
Now that Arrington has decided to air out some dirty laundry, on the web no less, Google is able to respond. Most of the time we wouldn't expect Google to respond to anything like this with more than a predetermined PR response. However, Google responded directly to the allegations and the man behind them. Google said in their response, "Mike makes a serious allegation here-that Google opened email messages in his Gmail account to investigate a leak." Google's general counsel, Kent Walker said, "While our terms of service might legally permit such access, we have never done this and it's hard for me to imagine circumstances where we would investigate a leak in that way."
It would seem that Google is more concerned about public image at the moment, with lawsuits and privacy being such a hot button subject right now. Question is why is Arrington coming out with this information now of all times, is it strategic to the lawsuits or is it something else?
Recently, a different company, you might have heard of them, they are called Microsoft, admitted doing something right along the lines of Arrington's allegations. However, as Walker stated, these companies have the right to do so since we agreed to their terms of service. Those terms of service give them permission to do this, and thus no legal action could really be taken. Though it could cause a lot of public perception issues of any company.
Whether or not Google did go into Arrington's email, with the sole purpose of drawing out the leak from within their company, may never be known. However, there is proof, according to Arrington, "The source had corresponded with me from a non Google email account, so the only way Google saw it was by accessing my Gmail account," continuing to say, "A little while after that my source was no longer employed by Google." These claims would make for a great movie, and already have in some way. However, after Arrington's post on his blog, he has declined to comment any further on the matter. It could be for numerous reasons, but we may never know.