As a result of a bug in a Google Apps e-mail migration tool, some students at Brown University found other students' e-mail in their in-box over the weekend as Google was moving their e-mail from Exchange to Gmail, Google confirmed on Friday.
The problem affected a "handful" of organizations that use Google Apps, a spokesman said. He declined to specify how many were affected or how many individual users were affected.
Brown University newspaper the Brown Daily Herald reported that e-mail for 22 students was misdirected starting on Friday, that the university notified Google about it on Saturday, and it was fixed on Tuesday.
However, the Google spokesman said the company found out about the problem on Monday, disabled the affected accounts within hours, and then restored the accounts within a day.
"A very small number of Google Apps domains using the IMAP migration tool last weekend encountered a bug that caused a handful of their users' mail to be migrated to the wrong accounts," the spokesman said in a statement. "We quickly identified and fixed the issue, which affected less than 0.002% of users, and worked with the organizations to restore the affected accounts to their original state. We have extensive safeguards in place to ensure that users' mail is safe, and we're confident this was an isolated incident."
Donald Tom, director of IT support services at the school, complained to the newspaper that the school was not notified before the affected e-mail accounts were suspended. However, he did praise Google for moving swiftly to fix the problem.
Asked to respond to that criticism, the Google spokesman said: "In this case we made the judgment call that the safest and most expedient course of action for the affected users was to suspend affected accounts as soon as possible. In our conversations with our customers, they've appreciated our prompt actions and have been satisfied with the outcome."