Google Pixel repairs lead to photo leaks and privacy nightmare

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After game designer and author Jane McGonigal sent her Pixel 5a to Google for repair, someone allegedly took and hacked her device. This is at least the second report in as many weeks of someone claiming to send in a Google phone for repair, only for using it to disclose their private data and photographs. Mcgonigal posted a detailed account on Twitter on Saturday and advised other users not to send their phones in for repair.

In October, McGonigal sent her broken phone to an official Pixel repair center in Texas. She later tweeted that Google said they never received the phone and that over the next several weeks she was billed for a replacement device.

But according to McGonigal, FedEx tracking information shows the device arrived at the facility weeks ago. Late Friday night – hours after saying she had finally received a refund for the device – someone appears to have used the “missing” phone to clear two-factor authentication checks and connect to several of her. accounts, including its Dropbox, Gmail, and Google Drive.

The activity triggered several email security alerts on McGonigal’s backup accounts. However, she assumes that the person who owns the phone may have used it to access their backup email addresses and then emptied all the security alerts in their spam folder.

“The photos they opened were of me in a bathing suit, sports bra, tight dresses and stitches after surgery,” McGonigal writes. “They deleted the Google security notifications from my backup email accounts.”

In a statement sent by email to The edgeGoogle spokesperson Alex Moriconi said: “We are investigating this claim. It remains unclear whether the device may have been intercepted at the repair facility or while it was in transit, or who has it now. Google’s official repair instructions recommend backing up and then erasing a device before sending it in. Still, as Jane McGonigal points out, it’s difficult or impossible, depending on the damage.

The whole situation reminds us of the safety concerns every time we hand in our devices for repair, and unfortunately, such activity has a precedent. In June, Apple paid a woman millions after repair technicians posted her nude photos on Facebook. Apple recently announced that it will start selling DIY repair kits, giving users the option to repair their own phones, or at least have the task done by someone a user trusts, instead of letting them have it done. ‘send or drop it off at an Apple Store.

For Pixel phones, your official service options are either by mail or, in some countries, by local service through an authorized provider. In the United States, Google is partnering with the uBreakiFix franchises. No matter which phone you own, the repair options are still somewhat limited, and you end up having to believe that no one with bad intentions is going to get their hands on your phone while it’s out of your possession.


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