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The risk you describe is a real risk. But we mitigate it at google with strong code review and high bars for our our core libraries teams.

All of our core libs are owned by a team and you can't make changes to them without permission and a thorough code review. Our perforce infrastructure allows us to prevent submits that don't meet this criteria so we get the benefits of ownership only we use ACL's instead of seperate repo's. It has so far worked very well for us.

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