I was talking about the original slashdot post that really just says "Google dude spied on minors" which sounds creepy to me. Not any linked articles within the /. post or comments.
If you think of how many worse things that a person that has access to "at the most sensitive information at the most powerful internet-based company in the world" one could see that this is a rather minor offense. He didn't gain anything out of it and in some ways is no more than stupid bullying.
There are plenty of 'what ifs' that you could run this through. I personally don't know what type of auditing Google does of their site reliability engineers - if any. Clearly the best way to be secure is to refrain from using a public email service as your medium for your sensitive data, no?
Very few people could know exactly how much 'snooping' went on. If he was doing this day in and day out for four months i'm sure someone would have noticed. If he did this very rarely over the course of four months it wouldn't necessarily be easy to audit. When it comes to personal violations like this - if the first guy it happened to reported it immediately it wouldn't have taken four months.
Finally: I tend to lean towards the side of criticizing any attempt at fear mongering on any medium, be it a simple post on slashdot or every major news agency saying the H1N1 is coming with the swines to eat you alive!