Google axes its chief privacy job after series of major data leaks

Google leaders overseeing privacy and competition are departing this year as the technology giant restructures its teams.

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After 13-years at Google, chief privacy officer Keith Enright will leave the company in the fall, he said on LinkedIn Tuesday. The company has no plans yet to replace Enright, who has led Google’s privacy team since September 2018 in the midst of heavy government scrutiny, Forbes reported. Later that September, Enright testified before Congress on consumer data policies, touting Google’s security protections.

“Google set out to organize the world’s information, and make it universally accessible and useful, and it’s been an immense privilege to advance that mission while protecting individual privacy and putting people in control of their information,” Enright said on LinkedIn Tuesday.

His departure comes as Google again faces heavy scrutiny over the privacy of user data and a broader restructuring of its policy and privacy teams. Google told Forbes, which first reported Enright’s departure, that its restructuring plans will increase the number of people working on regulatory compliance.

Google last December settled a $5 billion privacy lawsuit over tracking the internet usage of people using its “incognito mode” and other similar “private” modes in browsers. In April, the company agreed to delete “billions of data records” as part of the settlement, which had claimed the company owned “an unaccountable trove of information” about users who had sought to maintain their privacy.

Later in April, Google dropped its virtual private network from Google One, its paid cloud storage service because “people simply weren’t using it.” The company is shifting focus to prioritize other tasks, taking steps to implement data security and privacy features on its artificial intelligence tools.

On Tuesday, 404 Media reported on a new leak of an internal database cataloging thousands of privacy incidents logged — and largely fixed — by employees. It showed that a Google audio feature accidentally recorded the voices of children, that Google Street View was transcribing and storing cars’ license plates, and that Google-owned Waze was leaking the home addresses of users. Just a week earlier, about 2,500 documents from Google’s Search division were posted online, raising questions about how its Search algorithm works.

Google’s head of competition law, Matthew Bye, is also leaving the company and will not be replaced, Forbes reported. His departure comes on the heels of closing arguments in a landmark antitrust trial brought by the U.S. Justice Department against Google over its contracts related to Google Search. The department claims that Google has cornered almost 90% of the search engine market.

Google issued multiple rounds of layoffs this year, including one in early May affecting some 200 employees on its “Core” teams and recent layoffs affecting its cloud unit. The company has laid off around 1,500 workers so far in 2024.

-Laura Bratton contributed to this story.

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William Gavin