Marius Milner, who created the code that enabled Street View vehicles to capture personal data from WiFi networks, has worked at the company since 2003.
engineer behind the software code used to collect wireless network data and
personal information in connection with the companys Street View program has
been identified as a software maker who has been with the search engine giant
The New York Times, quoting an anonymous former investigator for a state that
was doing its own probe of Googles Street View program, reported April 30 that
Marius Milner was the Engineer Doe mentioned in the Federal Communications
Commissions (FCC) report on its investigation, and the person Google laid the
blame on for the Street View vehicles collecting personal data from millions of
people in dozens of countries.
LinkedIn profile, Milner said he has been a software engineer with Google since
2003 and with Google-owned YouTube since 2008. He also created software called
NetStumbler, which is designed to detect WiFi networks and collect information
on them, including their signal strength and whether theyre secure. He wrote
that NetStumbler is the worlds first usable Wardriving application for
Windows and that it is now a de facto wireless security tool used by hundreds
of thousands of people.
refers to the practice of driving around looking for WiFi networks.
arriving at Google, Milner also worked for Avaya and Lucent Technologies.
Street View program has come under scrutiny both in the United States and in
Europe after it was learned that between 2007 and 2010, the programs vehicles
had collected personal datasuch as passwords, emails, text messages and users
Internet usage historiesalong with other WiFi information. In its April 13
report, the FCC said that the Street View vehicles had collected more than
200GB of such payload data.
The data on
the WiFi networks was being used to help Google create better location-based
services, company officials have said. Street View is a program designed to
take photos of streets throughout the world and make them available online.
Google officials initially denied that payload data had been collected, as
well. They later admitted that the Street View cars had collected such personal
information, and laid the blame at the feet of a rogue engineer that they said
put that capability into the software on his own accord. Neither Google nor the
FCC would name the engineer, who was referred to as Engineer Doe in the
agency noted in the report that Engineer Doe had at least twice told colleaguesincluding a
supervising manager in the Street View programthat this payload data was being
collected, contradicting Google officials earlier statements.
report, FCC officials said they couldnt determine whether Google had violated
any laws, but said that Google had impeded the investigation by not fully
cooperating and fined the company $25,000. The commissioners also said it would
be difficult to get the full story about what happened because Engineer Doe
asserted his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination and declined to
answer investigators questions.
officials denied hampering the FCCs investigation, but said they would not
dispute the fine. Some in the tech industry scoffed at the size of the fine,
considering the billions that Google rakes in every quarter.
It has to be
said, considering the privacy storm that came out of the Street View data
breach, Google has got away remarkably lightly, Graham Cluley, senior
technology consultant at security software company Sophos, said in an April 30 post on the companys blog. For a
company of Google's size, a $25,000 fine is going to feel like a minor slap on
In a letter April 30, John Simpson, privacy project
director for the advocacy group Consumer Watchdog, urged Sen. Al Franken
(D-Minn.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Privacy,
Technology and the Law, to conduct hearings into the Google Wi-Spy incident
that will finally get to the bottom of what was the largest wiretapping effort
Franken to grant Engineer Doe immunity from prosecution so that he can testify
and to call Google CEO Larry Page to testify.
disagreed with Googles view that the FCCs report exonerated the company from
any wrongdoing, noting that the engineer did not testify and adding that
questions about the data collecting remain.
The FCC order
shows a troubling a portrait of a company where an engineer could run wild with
software code that violates the privacy of tens of millions people worldwide,
but the corporate culture of Engineers First prevented corporate counsel or
other engineers from stopping the privacy violations, he wrote.
European countries have determined that Googles Street View program violated
their privacy laws.