Google explains how all those Drive files got locked

They were erroneously flagged as possibly hosting malware or viruses.


On Halloween, some Google Docs users got a spooky surprise when they were locked out of their own documents for 'violating Google's terms of service.' The internet titan sent out a fix and a statement assuring Engadget that the lock-out was the result of faulty code that erroneously marked some documents as abusive. The company mentioned automatic digital security mechanisms that protect users from malware and phishing in their Docs and Drive systems -- and it seems those were falsely triggered by this code flaw.

In a blog post, Google stated that its automatic security detects and prevents access to files that might contain viruses, malware or 'other abusive content.' The bug caused Docs and Drive to misinterpret the signals from these systems, which resulted in erroneously marking particular files as violating TOS. While it's as much a mea culpa as you'll get from the internet giant, getting randomly locked out of your own documents was a wake-up call for some users who realized how much they depended on Google to access their cloud-based files -- access that can be revoked or shut off by bugs or intention.

In the post, Google reassured users that it would strive to keep files secure and safe: "We apologize to our users for any inconvenience this incident caused and remain committed to offering high-quality systems that keep their content safe while fully securing their files."