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Google has dismissed four employees, claiming that they violated data protection policies. Others, however, claim that the dismissals are retaliations to attempts to set up trade unions.

Google announced the dismissals in an internal e-mail called “Securing our data”. This email was sent to all employees on Monday. The message also came into the hands of Bloomberg. Google has confirmed its existence and its content to Bloomberg. However, the company refused to respond further.

The mail states that four employees have violated internal policy by incorrectly reading information about other employees outside their working groups. An investigation has shown that the four employees systematically searched for materials and work of other employees.

This would include business information that they were reading and disseminating. Employee calendars would also have been viewed. Moreover, the behaviour continued after they had already been criticised and made aware of the policy, according to Google.

Unionisation and protests

Although the internet giant did not reveal who exactly was fired, Silicon Angle was able to report that Rebecca Rivers is incuded. Rivers was an engineer at the company and involved in recent protests by employees against the Internet giant. Rivers has confirmed to Bloomberg that she has been dismissed.

The activist group Google Walkout For Real Change says on Medium that all four colleagues protested against their employer. Therefore, the dismissals are retaliation plain and simple, according to the group. The internet giant would not have provided the employees with clear guidelines as to which documents they are and are not allowed to read.

There have been tensions between Google and their employees for some time now. Employees have repeatedly criticised the company’s policy, for example when it was working on a search engine specifically for China. That search engine was alleged to censor certain themes. That project was shut down in July this year.