NYT IDs Google Street View Designer

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The New York Times reports that a former state investigator has identified the engineer who wrote the code for Google Street View as Marius Milner. "The F.C.C. recently closed its 17-month inquiry into the project ... with a finding that Google broke no laws but had obstructed its investigation," write The New York Times' Steve Lohr and David Streitfeld.

"The Street View project was an ambitious plan to photograph and map the world’s streets that also involved gathering information about local wireless networks to improve location-based searches," Lohr and Streitfeld write. "A Google engineer went a step further, however, the F.C.C. report said, and included code to collect unencrypted data sent from homes by computers -- e-mails and Internet searches -- as specially equipped cars drove by. That data collection occurred from 2007 to 2010."

"The engineer is reportedly Marius Milner, developer of the popular NetStumbler wardriving program for Windows," writes The Register's Andrew Orlowski. "Milner describes his occupation as a 'hacker' on his LinkedIn page."

"Milner is taking a bad rap for his role in the Google sniffing scandal," writes Computerworld's Preston Gralla. "Google has frequently implied that he was a rogue employee of sorts, embedding the code for grabbing personal Wi-Fi data on his own without telling anyone. But the FCC findings [show] that's not true. Before the software was deployed for Street View, Milner wrote a report that clearly said his software would capture 'payload data' from unencrypted private Wi-Fi networks -- personal information such as emails, passwords, and more. He also wrote that the information gathered would 'be analyzed offline for use in other initiatives,' although he never said what those initiatives were."

"I’ve long trusted and admired Google," writes Slate's Farhad Manjoo. "I use its services to store and organize my most personal data, including my email, contacts, bookmarks, Web history, and calendar. The Street View scandal hasn’t destroyed my trust in the company, but after reading the report, I no longer trust it implicitly. Even in the best-case scenario, someone at Google thought it would be a good idea to insert code that spies on the world, and no one else noticed. It doesn’t inspire my confidence that, a far as anyone from the outside can tell, anything has happened to the people who perpetrated this."