Google has confirmed that a software bug exposed documents thought to be privately stored in the Internet giant's online Docs application service.
The problem was fixed by the weekend and is believed to have affected only .05 percent of the digital documents at a Google Docs service that provides text-handling programs as services on the Internet.
"We've identified and fixed a bug where a very small percentage of users shared some of their documents inadvertently," Google Docs Product Manager Jennifer Mazzon wrote in a message at the firm's website on Saturday.
"We're sorry for the trouble this has caused. We understand our users' concerns (in fact, we were affected by this bug ourselves) and we're treating this very seriously."
The problem occurred in cases where people had chosen to collaborate on multiple documents and adjusted settings to allow access to others, according to Google.
Collaborators were unintentionally given permission to access documents aside from the ones intended.
"As part of the fix, we used an automated process to remove collaborators and viewers from the documents that we identified as having been affected," Mazzon said.
"We then emailed the document owners to point them to their affected documents in case they need to re-share them."
The slip comes as Google and other Internet firms entice people to rely on applications offered online as services "in the cloud" instead of buying software then installing and maintaining it on their own machines.
While the trend toward cloud services is growing, some still worry about the privacy of data kept online and whether it is shrewd to rely on the Internet for access to information and applications.
(c) 2009 AFP