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Google shuts down Google+ following massive security flaw

11 October 2018

"The story here isn't really the potential data breach (which may affected hundreds of thousands) or that Google is shutting down Google+", proclaimed Mac. However, the OAIC will be seeking further information from Google about the incident, including whether Australian users of Google+ were affected.

According to The Wall Street Journal, who first reported the story, Google refused to immediately disclose the bug when it was fixed back in March due to fear of regulatory scrutiny from lawmakers.

"This project looked at the operation of our privacy controls, platforms where users were not engaging with our APIs because of concerns around data privacy, areas where developers may have been granted overly broad access, and other areas in which our policies should be tightened", Smith said.

According to Smith, "This data is limited to static, optional Google+ Profile fields including name, email address, occupation, gender and age".

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In March, a security audit revealed a software bug that gave third-party apps access to Google+ private profile data people meant to share only with friends.

This issue has existed 2015 until Google found out about it in March 2018 and made a decision to fix it. Google then had a choice to inform its users but chose not to because it wasn't legally required to and secondly, because it would draw regulatory attention towards itself.

Call logs and SMS permissions will no longer be sent to developers, while contact interaction data won't be accessible via the Android Contacts API. "That means we can not confirm which users were impacted by this bug".

The company will wind down Google+ over 10 months, targeting an August 2019 shutdown.

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Google's excuse is that it found no evidence of any of the data being misused, however, it also has no way of being sure of that.

"Our Privacy and Data Protection Office reviewed this issue, looking at the type of data involved, whether we could accurately identify the users to inform, whether there was any evidence of misuse, and whether there were any actions a developer or user could take in response". "Over the coming months, we will provide consumers with additional information, including ways they can download and migrate their data".

Google did not make it clear if the experiment was a success and we'll see the functionality of Reply in other Google apps and services - or if the Reply experiment was a dud and Google is just sweeping it under the rug.

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Google shuts down Google+ following massive security flaw