SAN FRANSISCO: Workers across several departments at photo-messasing platform Snapchat who have privileged access to users' data spied on them for years, a Motherboard report has claimed.
These employees used "SnapLion", an internal tool used by various departments, to access Snapchat user data like location information, saved Snaps (photos or videos), phone numbers and email addresses.
"Two former employees said multiple Snap employees abused their access to Snapchat user data several years ago," said the report.
Snapchat, which has 190 million daily active users globally, said that protecting privacy is paramount at the company.
"We keep very little user data, and we have robust policies and controls to limit internal access to the data we do have. Unauthorized access of any kind is a clear violation of the company's standards of business conduct and, if detected, results in immediate termination," the company was quoted as saying.
The internal tool "SnapLion" was originally used to gather information on users in response to valid law enforcement requests.
An internal Snap email obtained by Motherboard said a department called "Customer Ops" has access to SnapLion. Security staff also had access to the tool.
One of the former employees said that data access abuse occurred "a few times" at Snap.
Photo-messaging app Snapchat added four million new users in the first quarter of 2019, registering a revenue of $320 million -- up 39 per cent (year-over-year).
Snapchat's daily active users were 190 million -- up two per cent from 186 million in the previous quarter but down from 191 million in Q1 2018.