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Google Patents Privacy Wireless Networking Your Rights Online

Data Engineer In Google Case Is Identified 186

Posted by timothy
from the under-the-bus dept.
theodp writes "Meet Engineer Doe. A NY Times report has identified Marius Milner as the software engineer at the center of the uproar over a Google project that used Wi-Fi sniffing Google Street View cars to collect e-mail and other personal data from potentially millions of unsuspecting people. Milner, creator of the wardriving software NetStumbler, referred questions to his lawyer. Google declined to comment. A patent search shows the USPTO awarded Google and Milner a patent in June 2011 for protecting Internet users from 'hackers and other ne'er-do-wells [who] may seek to tap into communications on a network.'"
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Data Engineer In Google Case Is Identified

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  • ftfy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @09:15AM (#39856163)

    Data Engineer In Google Case Is Identified

    Fall Guy In Google Case Is Identified.
    FTFY

  • by SaroDarksbane (1784314) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @09:17AM (#39856185)

    If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place.

    Or in this case, if you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be broadcasting it over the airwaves to the public at large.

    Just a thought.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @09:28AM (#39856305)

    Neither of those analogies are appropriate, and your reaction is awfully spiteful for someone who likely wouldn't be on an unencrypted wi-fi network in the first place.

    In one of your examples, you're given access to a private system with the idea that you won't mess with other.
    In the other, you're tapping into a private circuit with the intent to steal data.

    If anything, home routers should come pre-encrpyted, with the random default key on a sticker on the bottom, and display a warning and disclaimer for people who wish to run unencrypted wi-fi.

    Someone before made the analogy about this being like having sex with the windows open, and then saying anyone who happens to stare for a few extra seconds can go fuck themselves and deserves to die. What kind of person ARE you???

  • by ByOhTek (1181381) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @09:31AM (#39856343) Journal

    You can't be that stupid...

    If the system is open, an easily sniffable, you're an idiot for using it with stuff you don't want publically accessible.

    * I don't use WiFi at home (easy enough to wire a place up, a simple weekend project).
    * When I do use WiFi...
    ** If it is encrypted, then I will use things like email, etc. But only if they are on a secure pipe (such as https / pops / etc.). I still won't use it for anything financial.
    ** If it is unecrypted, then I will only do casual browsing - no stuff with user names or passwords.
    * Wired is treated like secure/encrypted WiFi, except I will do financial things (if it is a network I trust)...

    Remember, on the internet, paranoia is your friend because everyone IS out to get you.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @09:36AM (#39856395)

    Your reasoning is along the same as "you shouldn't go out if you don't want to get stabbed". It is not reasonable suggestion.

    Do you even have the ability to grasp granularity of magnitude that isn't all on or all off?

    HTTPS isn't the issue here. THERE IS NO PRIVATE NETWORK ON OPEN WIFI. A secured connection, a dedicated connection from an ISP, these are PRIVATE connections. OPEN WIFI is a PUBLIC ONE.

    You don't want people listening in on your phone calls? Don't have them outside in a public place, the hobos might steam your trade secrets (or whatever paranoia types like you subscribe to).
    You don't want people listening in on your data? Don't transmit it on a "public" medium.

  • by WaywardGeek (1480513) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @09:41AM (#39856433) Journal

    But how could he not write the sniffer program? A co-worker of mine wrote a fun screen-saver. It posted each image sniffed over wifi in a random place on the background, creating a real-time collage of what people were viewing on the Internet. He wrote the program and showed it to his boss, and fortunately being at a start-up, he found it amusing. He also hacked our WEP security in a few hours with some hacker software, leading us to upgrade our protection rather than get pissed. It is the nature of good engineers to be curious, and Joe Engineer does not offend me. It's the government that scares me [scpr.org].

  • Here's a choice tidbit from the article:

    Google long maintained that the engineer was solely responsible for this aspect of the project, which resulted in official investigations, some still unresolved, in more than a dozen countries. But a complete version of the F.C.C.’s report, released by Google on Saturday, has cast doubt on that explanation, saying that the engineer informed at least one superior and that seven engineers who worked on the code were all in a position to know what was going on.

    The F.C.C. report also had Engineer Doe spelling out his intentions quite clearly in his initial proposal. Managers of the Street View project said they never read it.

    Depicting his actions as the work of a rogue “requires putting a lot of dots together,” Mr. Milner said enigmatically Sunday before insisting again he had no comment. He said he was closely following the news reports on the issue.

    If that's all to be believed, Milner reported on what he was doing, and sent it to his boss(es). They opted to "not read" the report. If at least six other engineers were in a position to know, then this sounds more like a "no, don't put this in writing or tell us what you're doing" situation than a rogue employee. If bosses aren't responsible for their employees, what are they there for?

  • by khipu (2511498) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @10:14AM (#39856793)

    If you broadcast information publicly and without sufficient encryption, the public can listen in and record it.

    Apart from the question of who is right in the abstract, punishing Google or other people isn't going to deter anybody who actually wants to do you harm, since passive listening is pretty much impossible to detect. What we might restrict and punish is the use of such information, for example rebroadcasting it, using it in legal proceedings without a prior warrant, or reselling it.

    The real question we should be asking is how people are punished that broadcast private information (e.g., hospitals that use unencrypted networks).

  • by jimbolauski (882977) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @10:17AM (#39856831) Journal
    So if I leave the door to my house unlocked it's OK for you to go in and take what ever you want? How much responsibility falls on the home owner? If they lock their doors and arm a security system but the system is old and easy to bypass and the thief has a bump key is it the owners fault. Google identifying open wifi while driving around is not the problem it's that they went into the network and collected data. If they sniffed any VOIP traffic then they committed a felony the only reason they have not been charged is that email and other communication are not protected under law.
  • by madmark1 (1946846) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @10:29AM (#39856961)

    If you leave your house unlocked, no, that doesn't allow me to go in and take whatever I want, because the DOOR IS CLOSED. Now, if you opened your door, and put a sign on the porch saying "Hey, I have stuff in here", then yes, it is your fault. Same as if you were broadcasting unencrypted wifi signals.

    And while we are on the topic, let me educate you a bit. If you send out an unencrypted radio signal, and I do nothing more than receive it, then I did not "go into the network" to get anything. I received exactly what was sent to me. See the difference?

  • by timholman (71886) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @10:39AM (#39857081)

    They didn't "go into" the network. They collected data that was floating on the airwaves around them. The proper analogy isn't with walking into an open door, but taking a photo through an open window. From the street.

    Actually, it's more like putting a speaker outside your house, then playing personal information over it for anyone driving down the street to hear, and then getting angry that someone had the gall to record the audio that you were broadcasting to the world at large.

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @10:40AM (#39857099)

    If bosses aren't responsible for their employees, what are they there for?

    To provide individual profit without individual responsibility. Unless, of course, profit is threatened, in which case sacrificing an individual is a reasonable response. See also: The reason most people over the age of 30 are fired. I can't tell you how many times I've heard someone blubber "But I did what they asked me to..." on the way out the door. I've worked corporate jobs long enough to know that when someone asks you to do something you think might backfire, you smile, agree, and work as slowly as possible on the project while working as quickly as possible at finding another job and getting your name off the reports. Corporations will not hesitate to throw their employees under the bus -- afterall, it's not like you're unique or important... there's fifty more just like you a phone call away.

    That is the raisin de etre for a corporation: Individual profit without individual responsibility.

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