Marius Milner, the Google engineer reported to be responsible for the code that allowed Street View cars to collect data from home networks, is listed as one of the inventors on a Google patent for a technology meant to thwart “hackers and other ne’er-do-wells” who “may seek to tap into communications on a network.”

As reported elsewhere, Milner was also the creator of NetStumbler, a leading Windows application used in wardriving, the technique for finding wireless networks from a car.

But a search for Milner’s name at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office turns up a filing that’s particularly ironic, given the type of technology the patent describes.

Here’s an excerpt from the document.

Hackers and other ne’er-do-wells may seek to tap into communications on a network. For example, thieves may seek to intercept communications so as to identify financial information or to listen in on telephone conversations (such as over digital packet-based networks). Others, such as hackers, may seek to obtain user names and passwords so as to later access resources on a network for malicious purposes. To prevent such security breaches, users of remote devices use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or other such approach to communicate with a central network such as a corporate LAN or WAN.

This document describes systems and techniques relating to device authentication for networks. In general, the systems and techniques may assist in providing access to a secure network. For example, a system may transmit a session identifier to provide a password, an identifier, and a time-stamp to a client. The system may use such information in analyzing a session identifier to ensure that a client trying to access a private network is a legitimate client with a viable session identifier.

The patent application was originally made in 2007 and issued last year. Milner is one of four people from Google listed as inventors.

Google hasn’t confirmed Milner’s identity as the “Engineer Doe” responsible for the code. More background on the case in this New York Times piece, including a statement from Milner in which he doesn’t seem to agree with the assessment that he was a rogue employee acting alone.

The FCC recently closed the case, finding that Google didn’t break any laws through its actions but obstructed justice in the case, a contention that Google disputes.

(Image: Wikimedia Commons)

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  • Guest

    Google is neither a “hacker” nor a “ne’er do well.” Would a “ne’er do well” give me 10 gigabytes of free storage for my e-mail? Five gigabytes for any file I want? Unfettered access to the world’s news, scholarly journals, books, and all other information? The world’s leading open source (open source!!) operating system for mobile phones and tablets? The world’s leading web browser, also open source?

    Government, I pay your salaries. Stop harassing innovators and stop wasting my money.

    • Guest

      Holly/Bentley/God/whatever, they are a hacker. They wardrived consumer’s wifi networks and helped themselves to any data that wasn’t encrypted. Just because the FTC couldn’t find them guilty of violating any laws, in part because one of the key programmers took the 5th, doesn’t mean it wasn’t illegal or at the very least unethical. This abuse is still pending in numerous other countries. I’ll be amazed if at least some of the European ones don’t indeed find it violates their privacy laws.

      Google is happy to give you “free” email and file storage. That way they can sift through every email you send and the files you keep to learn more about you. Remember, you’re not the main customer; that’s advertisers. You’re the product being sold. And are you really going to mention the Google books fiasco, where they helped themselves to copyrighted material without author’s permission?

      Sadly, most of Google’s innovation is focused on selling your personal information to advertisers more efficiently.

      • Guest

        Would you kindly name one Google product that consists of selling my personal information to advertisers?

        Not aggregated data. Not search keywords. My personal information. Name one product that will result in an advertiser getting my individual non-aggregated personal information. My name. My date of birth. My Google+ username. My love letters. My personal information. One product.

        Just one Google product. One.

        • chuck goolsbee

          One could argue that your search keywords, links you click, email content, things you watch on youtube, items you share on G+, etc paint a far more accurate picture of who you are, what you want, and who you know than your name, birthdate, etc. A name is just a name “Mr./Ms. Guest”, your behavior online and off, is who you really are.  Google knows you quite well.

          As does Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. etc.

          No advertising platform “sells personal information” as you define it – they sell demographic data. This is also true of Newspapers, Magazines, Radio, TV, etc. The difference with “social networks” is that the demographic data is more accurate, and verified by the users themselves, not some 3rd party auditor(s). 

          This however is not the issue here – the issue is that Google knowingly sniffed networks all over the planet, without permission, and used the data collected – THEN Google seemingly obstructed the investigation(s) that came as a result. 

          I’m OK with Google, Facebook, Twitter, even GeekWire serving me ads based on my demographics I share with them. I’m not OK with companies wardriving the planet, and capturing/keeping/using data without permission. It seems quite a few folks share this point of view. 

          Governments are the ones who enforce laws and Google seems to have crossed a line or two here. Nobody is going to jail for this, but we can all hope that companies such as Google will think before they do something (gasp… evil!) like this again.

          • Guest

            Thank you for confirming that Google does not, in fact, sell my personal information to advertisers.

  • DebraPMeredith
  • jennifer john

    Hackers and other ne’er-do-wells may seek to tap into communications on a network.

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