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Snapchat employees spied on users with an internal tool called SnapLion: report

Snapchat employees spied on users with an internal tool called SnapLion: report
[Photo: Bernard Hermant/Unsplash]

Snap employees reportedly snooped on Snapchat users without their knowledge, according to a new story from Motherboard. The workers had access to an internal tool that let them access certain user data–including phone numbers, email addresses, and photos that were thought to be deleted.

This tool, allegedly called SnapLion, was supposedly built to make law enforcement requests easier. Multiple teams have access to SnapLion–including the security group and spam and abuse. Motherboard, citing anonymous sources who either work or have worked at Snap, says there were multiple occurrences of employees abusing their access to the internal search tool. It’s unclear what data these employees accessed.

I reached out to the company for additional comment and will update if I hear back (Update: see below).

Most tech companies have programs that give at least some employees access to user data. Occurrences like these show how easy it is for this information to be abused and compromised. It seems the occurrences reported happened a while ago, yet it still raises concerns about what compromising data tech employees can easily access.

You can read the full report here.

Update: A Snap spokesperson provided me with the following statement:

Any perception that employees might be spying on our community is highly troubling, and wholly inaccurate. Protecting privacy is paramount at Snap. We keep very little user data, and we have robust policies and controls to limit internal access to the data we do have, including data within tools designed to support law enforcement. Unauthorized access of any kind is a clear violation of the company’s standards of business conduct and, if detected, results in immediate termination.

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