Google Groups: Check How Public They Are!

The Register reports today that the Japanese government has mistakenly left at least one Google Group open to the world to read where they discussed “secret” government work. Or more seriously, discussed the details of numerous people within the group.

There are a lot of possible aspects to this – not least that governments can completely fumble their own security – but there is one big lesson to learn from this.

Anyone who creates or manages a Google Group should be aware of the sharing settings, be aware of whether the Group should be public or private, and be aware of how to make changes if necessary.

Details on how to change the sharing settings will come later, but for now …

Public or Private?

It would be a shame if we were to be overly draconian and start insisting all Google Groups should be private, or even that they be configured as private by default. After all Google Groups are a great tool for public collaboration on research, or anything else.

But if a Google Group is intended for University business … or University business gets discussed on the list, then it should be private.

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