SNAPCHAT STAFFERS have been accused of abusing internal data tools to spy on users.
A report at Motherboard that cites former and current Snap employees claims several departments have access to tools to harvest user data and that a number of employees have misused them to spy on users.
With these internal tools, Snap staff were allegedly able to access information such as location details, saved snaps, phone numbers and email addresses.
One of the tools, called SnapLion, was originally created so that the firm could respond to law enforcement requests.
"Both of the sources said SnapLion is a play on words with the common acronym for law enforcement officer LEO, with one of them adding it is a reference to the cartoon character Leo the Lion," wrote Motherboard in its report.
The publication's sources said they believed that Snapchat's 'Spam and Abuse' team, 'Customer Ops' and security staff were using the tool. Another employee claims that it is used for combatting bullying and harassment.
Describing the tool, one employee said it provides them with "the keys to the kingdom".
An email obtained by Motherboard shows how SnapLion has been used to identify an email address for a law enforcement request, and another email shows how it can be used to help in child abuse cases.
While these two emails describe legitimate use of the tool, an employee claimed that people have abused it "a few times".
A spokesperson for Snap told Motherboard: "Protecting privacy is paramount at Snap. We keep very little user data, and we have robust policies and controls to limit internal access to the data we do have.
"Unauthorised access of any kind is a clear violation of the company's standards of business conduct and, if detected, results in immediate termination."
Snap added that use of these internal tools is limited and that they are only used by departments that require access. µ
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