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This is a story about how Wesley Miller accidentally erased 2 years’ worth of CollapseNet’s valuable website traffic and analytical data from Google Analytics. Not me, but another Wesley Miller. And Google let it happen, with no remorse, no recourse and no restitution short of a lawsuit.
On May 2, 2012, CollapseNet received a notice from Google stating that our Google analytics account has been deleted by a person with an e-mail address that began "wesanator”. I was furious. That information was quite valuable and irreplaceable. We took it as an attack on our business and I immediately went on the counterattack.
After firing off a threatening e-mail to this “wes -anator” character, I try repeatedly to find a way to contact Google for support to try to resurrect our data and find out who was trying to hurt us. Google, it turns out, does not care to be contacted by any human beings, for any reason. I dug and dug for a phone number: for support, for customer service, for the legal department, anywhere in Google's offices. I finally managed to contact a human being working for Google who told me, “Google does not offer phone support. For anything. You must submit an e-mail and wait for a reply.” Yada, yada, get off my phone…
I got lucky that the “wesanator” was kind enough to contact me in return. It turns out he's just another guy named Wesley Miller. He’s a nice guy who didn’t know anything about CollapseNet. He runs a nature trail website, www.trailcrony.com, and he had just closed his Google Adsense account after deleting all his files. The problem is that Google allowed him into our files – CollapseNet’s files - without permission from anyone at CollapseNet and without even being known to anyone at CollapseNet, apparently based solely upon the similarity between his name and mine!
That's right, a person named Wesley Miller, with a different middle initial from mine, was allowed into password-protected sensitive company data and given the ability to permanently delete that data because of Google’s security incompetence.
According to the other Wesley Miller:
“[The] Issue with logging on to and associating my AdSense account over to the analytics side to track my stats. It had me log in with my password. I then saw this account for Collapse Net. At this point being new to all this [I] just took it as a dummy account, to teach me what to do and to show me what things would look like. So I played around with the settings and added my trailcrony.com to it, and started to learn. Then when the 1st of the month rolled around I was excepting an email from Google about my invalid click activity. I had just got it going about 3 weeks ago and yes I did do some wrong clicking. This was purely out of curiosity and make sure it was all working.”
In short, Google wrongfully gave him access to our account, then later told him they were closing his account because of a minor policy violation he had committed, so he decided to delete everything, including the CollapseNet files. A small f-u to Google on the way out the door.
Now I can’t fault a person named Wesley Miller for sticking his middle finger up at a giant corporation playing policy games with him, but I sure as hell blame Google for letting it happen in the first place. Of course, Google disclaims any responsibility for losing any data and their website states plainly that deleted analytics data is gone for good (although I don’t believe them).
Google is a company that invades our every space, sending out fleets of cars cataloging our homes and neighborhoods. They control immeasurable amounts of personal, corporate and government data, all sensitive to one degree or another. These agents of Big Brother stare down at all of us, constantly. They are one of the biggest and most sophisticated companies on the planet, yet they cannot provide security enough to distinguish between 2 guys with similar names, or even put up the money to man a fucking phone room to help its clients in any way!?
The other Wesley Miller has tried contacting Google through their maze of e-mail submissions in the vain effort to get any kind of service. Their response has been crickets – not a thing from Google by publication time. Just as I expected. Because of our recent server switch, there is no way for CollapseNet to re-construct the lost data. It is truly gone for good unless Google makes it right and restores it. I don’t expect that to happen, either.
I know “Miller” is a common last name but I've never met another “Wesley Miller” before this incident (he lives in another state, too). Regardless, our e-mails and passwords were completely different. This massive security breach should never have occurred.
God help you if your name is John Smith….or if you rely on Google for anything.
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