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Google Releases FCC Report On Street View Probe

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the fingers-and-cookie-jars dept.

Google 95

An anonymous reader writes with news that Google has released the full report of the FCC investigation into the incident in which its Street View cars collected personal data while mapping Wi-Fi networks. They are putting responsibility for the data gathering on a 'rogue engineer' who wrote the code for it without direction from management. "Those working on Street View told the FCC they had no knowledge that the payload data was being collected. Managers of the Street View program said they did not read the October 2006 document [written by the engineer that detailed his work]. A different engineer remembered receiving the document but did not recall any reference to the collection of payload data. An engineer who worked closely with the engineer in question on the project in 2007, reviewing all of the codes line by line for bugs, says he did not notice that the software was designed to capture payload data. A senior manager said he preapproved the document before it was written."

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Obama ate a dog. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39833905)

Obama ate a dog.

Re:Obama ate a dog. (5, Funny)

Nyder (754090) | more than 2 years ago | (#39833927)

Obama ate a dog.

That's what happens when times are tough. You order take out. You think the meat is chicken, it's not.

Re:Obama ate a dog. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39833939)

It also happens when you're a little busy. Buy a hot dog but get distracted for a moment. Now it's cooled off but isn't cold. Hot dog -> dog -> cold dog

Re:Obama ate a dog. (-1, Redundant)

busyqth (2566075) | more than 2 years ago | (#39833971)

It also happens when you're a little busy. Buy a hot dog but get distracted for a moment. Now it's cooled off but isn't cold. Hot dog -> dog -> cold dog

No, that middle stage between 'hot dog' and 'cold dog' is 'wiener'.
So in your scenario, we would have to say that Obama ate a wiener.

Now that may or may not be true; but if true, he probably doesn't want it getting around.

Re:Obama ate a dog. (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#39834009)

Obama ate a Kennedy?

"Ich bin ein Berliner" does not mean what a lot of people think it means.

Ergo;

"Ich"=I "bin"=am "ein"=a "Berliner"=sausage. ::takes a bow:: I'm here all week.

Re:Obama ate a dog. (1)

busyqth (2566075) | more than 2 years ago | (#39834033)

A Berliner is not a sausage. It's a type of "pfannkuchen", kind of like a jelly doughnut.
http://amoiltedesco.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/berliner-pfannkuchen.jpg [wordpress.com]

Re:Obama ate a dog. (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#39834047)

strange, when I was in Bad Salzig for a week we ate Berliners which were chopped and formed beef and pork cut into slices and smoked.

I guess the Germans must be wrong!

Re:Obama ate a dog. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39834257)

Well, either your memory is playing tricks on you or the people you met were or there's some strange dish with the same name in Bad Salzig.
My money is on your memory.

Re:Obama ate a dog. (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#39834403)

No [calobonga.com] , I'm pretty sure [healthassist.net] I didn't imagine [stiglmeier.com] it.

Re:Obama ate a dog. (1)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | more than 2 years ago | (#39834469)

Turns out you're wrong. Not just a little, not even a lot, but COMPLETELY, 100%, totally wrong. JFK (literally) said: "I am a jelly doughnut".

Re:Obama ate a dog. (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#39834487)

Oh, whatever. Never let facts get in the way of a convenient truth, eh?

Re:Obama ate a dog. (1)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | more than 2 years ago | (#39834793)

Well, my mother-in-law, who was in the Hitler youth, and served out most of the (second, world) war as an (German, military) air traffic controller, and my father-in-law, who was in the Luftwaffe, and spent most of the war in an Allied prisoner-of-war camp; (they met in the US in the early 50's) both tell hysterical first-person stories about how hard they laughed when JFK announced he was a jelly doughnut; if YOU know better than THEY do, I guess I'll have to take your word for it. Or not. Twit.

Re:Obama ate a dog. (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#39835067)

Oh, namecalling now, is it? You lose.

Re:Obama ate a dog. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39835237)

so a couple of nazis made fun of JFK? and you're proud of that.

Re:Obama ate a dog. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39838067)

As nice as your Nazi family sounds, I'll trust the good people at snopes.

http://www.snopes.com/language/misxlate/berliner.asp

Re:Obama ate a dog. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39834787)

you are both COMPLETLY 100% wrong.
JFK said exactly what he meant and all Germans listening to him knew it.
Yes, there is a jelly donut called the berliner.
Yes, there are sausages called berliner.
  but what he said was given to him by a professional translater and was correct.

see : http://urbanlegends.about.com/cs/historical/a/jfk_berliner.htm

Re:Obama ate a dog. (2)

busyqth (2566075) | more than 2 years ago | (#39835779)

It is common to omit the article when speaking of a a place of origin in German, thus the accusation that Kennedy called himself a jelly doughnut because he did not omit the article.

However, it is true that the Germans listening understood very well what he meant and appreciated what he said.

Re:Obama ate a dog. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39833963)

if you're saying that Obama ate a dog in the past month or so, that's just wrong.
Dog is a summer food.

Re:Obama ate a dog. (1)

zidium (2550286) | more than 2 years ago | (#39834859)

Good troll!!

Your **totally off-topic and stupid** post and its children make up 26% of the total comments in this story.

Unbelievable!

what about the rest of the life cycle? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39833917)

was anyone assigned to validate requirements against functionality? compliance? export control? 3rd party software integration copyright and license? was any due diligence done other than to review for technical bugs?

Re:what about the rest of the life cycle? (3, Insightful)

zidium (2550286) | more than 2 years ago | (#39833947)

Why is this modded -1????

I would hope Google would do such things regularly!

Re:what about the rest of the life cycle? (4, Interesting)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 2 years ago | (#39834045)

Surely you jest! This is the Internet age of development where most of the bleeding-edge companies doing software development have completely bought into a agile development model where the requirements are "flexible" - usually so flexible that the development group is operating with a completely different set of requirements than the analyst or program manager. End result is you have something that works at the end but nobody quite knows what it is supposed to do only what it does do now.

Probably one of the funniest tales of software development is how FaceBook actually operates. I suspect much of Google is run the same way, only the search engine is probably overseen rather strictly. The rest? I suspect you could ask three people and get four different descriptions of what a particular product's requirements were today and if they were actually being implemented.

How do you think Android can have two separate email programs (one for Gmail and one for everything else) and the two apps have wildly divergent sets of options and default settings? This stuff just sneaks in, obviously. Did you really think there was a specification?

I don't think there is time for any thinking about things like compliance, export control or third party copyright considerations in any place that is trying to keep up with the Internet today and operating an agile development environment. These considerations are thought to have died in the 1970s.

Re:what about the rest of the life cycle? (1)

zidium (2550286) | more than 2 years ago | (#39834115)

How does "Facebook really operate"?? I'd really like to know. Sounds like it's a mess.

Re:what about the rest of the life cycle? (1)

lexman098 (1983842) | more than 2 years ago | (#39835259)

How do you think Android can have two separate email programs (one for Gmail and one for everything else) and the two apps have wildly divergent sets of options and default settings? This stuff just sneaks in, obviously. Did you really think there was a specification?

I don't know, it could be a feature. I rather like having two separate email apps to keep personal and work emails completely separate like it is on the computer. Both apps are great too, but I definitely wouldn't want to swap the accounts between them.

Re:what about the rest of the life cycle? (2)

gmanterry (1141623) | more than 2 years ago | (#39835369)

I generally have a favorable image of Google but this sounds like pure bullshit. Even the guy reviewing the code line by line didn't notice? Come on!!!

Re:what about the rest of the life cycle? (4, Insightful)

Tharsman (1364603) | more than 2 years ago | (#39834053)

I got to say, it sounds extremely odd that there were no more eyes. Google is a company that has a price tag on how much every signle web search executed by a user cost them, in energy and equipment degradation. They have specially manufactured cpus that can run hot so they can conserve as much heat as they can. ... but in all those years, even in the initial test run... no one noticed the cars where filling their hard-drives WAY too fast?

This takes me back about 7 years ago in a contract involving 3 parties. Client, contractor and a sub-contractor. In a meeting, the usually incompetent IT manager employed by the client to run their data center, asks our sub-contractor "why is the database growing at a rate of 1GB per day?" The sub-contractor was clueless and we shocked. Sure, we perhaps should had noticed.... (BTW, reason for the growth: zero normalization. I kid you not, these guys had absolutely no normalized tables at all, and nearly every field indexed.)

My point is: unexpected bursts in data storage are too easy to notice, because the first time hard drives fill up and windows (or whatever OS they use) shouts for air... well... some one will notice.

But these are not morons... these are Google engineers... the ones that have quantified the cost of a search to the atomic level. I'm sure more than just an unnamed "rogue engineer" was very aware of this.

Re:what about the rest of the life cycle? (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | more than 2 years ago | (#39834129)

I got to say, it sounds extremely odd that there were no more eyes.

I don't know, it sounds quite Plausible to me.

Re:what about the rest of the life cycle? (3, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#39834165)

Multi hundred gigabyte HDs don't fill up that fast.

Besides, Street View is some tiny little bit of Google with managers and engineers stuck in some corner of the cafeteria. It's not like tons of money is expended on them (eg, the price tag on data center cooling) so multiple levels of review / fine tuning probably just doesn't occur. I saw the Google car in town not too long ago - a DIY dream. Gear strewn over the rear seat with cables everywhere and a what appeared to be big tube of cables running into the trunk.

And these Google engineers - I'm sure they're smart and all, but they put their pants on one leg a time.

Re:what about the rest of the life cycle? (2)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 2 years ago | (#39834269)

...but they put their pants on one leg a time.

I've always wondered about this phrase... Sure, you put 'em on one leg at a time if you don't have anything to sit on, or don't feel like sitting, but most of the time I change in my bedroom, which has ready availability of.. a bed.. for sitting. In that case, It's not really much difference in effort to pull 'em on a leg at a time, or all at once.

Anyway, I'd say that, based on experience of one person - me, most people put their pants on one leg at a time, about 60% of the time.

Also, I can't be alone in that every time someone uses that phrase here, I cannot avoid thinking of two or three pantsing/de-pantsing device designs of varying practicality and requirements (are the pants allowed to touch the floor? Can they be folded or bent?)

Re:what about the rest of the life cycle? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39834825)

"all at once"? really? how many do you have?

Re:what about the rest of the life cycle? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39874763)

It means they're just like everyone else. Very simple really.

Re:what about the rest of the life cycle? (2)

Fwipp (1473271) | more than 2 years ago | (#39834385)

Logging internet traffic is going to be a drop in the bucket compared to taking 360 photos every twenty feet or so.

Re:what about the rest of the life cycle? (1)

Fwipp (1473271) | more than 2 years ago | (#39834437)

Doh. Meant 360 degree photos.

Re:what about the rest of the life cycle? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39834839)

It's sounds like there were plenty of eyes. How does that old saw go, "When it's everybody's responsibility, nobody does it"?

Re:what about the rest of the life cycle? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39836563)

You are spot on: Of course they noticed what was going on. What's more, of course they tested it to see that it was behaving as expected before deploying to hundreds of cars, so more people must have known.

However, you're missing two points. First, the distributions of morons, sloppy and lazy people is similar inside and outside Google. Sure, there might be a higher concentration of intelligent engineers, and the totally retarded are maybe not so heavily represented, except for "equal opportunity" programs, yet some idiots slip through. And it so happened that a few of them got to work on this wifi module.

Secondly, after the fact, most of the engineers inside came out and defended the collection of wifi data on the basis that it was "public information" in the same way pictures taken from the street is claimed to be public and free-for-all. So even if more people knew about the collection, they would have approved it. Naturally, nobody is willing to admit to that now, and finger-pointing is the name of the game.

Re:what about the rest of the life cycle? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39834131)

This is the new "agile"' methodology. There is no design or validation, just furious coding off a prioritized feature list and "code reviews" which amount to little more than some other programmer skimming a check-in and signing off.

Re:what about the rest of the life cycle? (4, Informative)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#39835293)

This is the new "agile"' methodology. There is no design or validation, just furious coding off a prioritized feature list and "code reviews" which amount to little more than some other programmer skimming a check-in and signing off.

And that s quite sufficient for an in-house tool. They were not selling street view cars, they were simply collecting their own data, which they never intended to sell.

This is not a development system for launching rockets or writing pay checks. Its not a deliverable in a contract. Its strictly an in-house lash-up where one guy decided to exceed his mandate.

When your manager asks you to write a quick program to find all the Ford Truck owners that Work in Building B by scanning the parking tag database, you do it the fastest way possible. You don't start with any more of a requirements statement that your boss gave you, you don't send your grep script out for a third party review, you don't run it by legal, you don't hold design meetings, and write memos, because the friggin Black Ford Ranger truck is LEAKING GAS RIGHT NOW, and the police won't tell you who owns it from its license plate number without a subpoena.

Not every project is a big production. This whole wifi project was a pimple on street view's neck, so that google didn't have to pay Skyhook for its database. It was a cheap expedient, and it was a perfect single engineer project or at most a couple guys to kick the code around an two or three hardware guys to assemble the wifi receiver packaging.

Re:what about the rest of the life cycle? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39835695)

true enough! in this case the legal system will not care about methodology, just due diligence

Re:what about the rest of the life cycle? (1)

Unoriginal_Nickname (1248894) | more than 2 years ago | (#39835149)

Google doesn't have customers to gather requirements from. They make up random stuff that sounds okay, and then use A/B testing to see if people like it.

Keep in mind, Google is not a software company. Popularity is not a way to choose features. Popularity is a way to sell advertisements.

Cool! (1, Insightful)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 2 years ago | (#39833925)

The company that holds some million people email and web search and history deploys stuff controlled by on 1 one 1 engineer. But hey, it was only a few tera of data...

Re:Cool! (3, Insightful)

preaction (1526109) | more than 2 years ago | (#39833943)

No, one engineer is being thrown under the bus. I wonder if his name was Goldstein...

Re:Cool! (2)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 2 years ago | (#39833961)

Wait but you can't say that, because Google is "not evil"(tm).
They have painted themselves into a corner quite well, this time.

But people forget soon. Heck, they are still buying Windows, praising Jobs, and considering Richard Matthew "Told you so!" Stallman a commie idealist.

Re:Cool! (1)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 2 years ago | (#39834175)

But people forget soon. Heck, they are still buying Windows, praising Jobs, and considering Richard Matthew "Told you so!" Stallman a commie idealist.

Nothing to do with forgetting quickly –they just saw through google's "no evil" façade much quicker, and were left with the options "buy nothing, or buy a compromised option"

Re:Cool! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39834089)

It was a few tera of data that was broadcast in public, collected by a machine only used by Google, and the data was never used.

Oh, and it was like years ago. Jebus.

Re:Cool! (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 2 years ago | (#39837509)

>It was a few tera that was broadcast in public
Because it needed to travel from hotspot to PC.

Let's say you go to work every day. You have to appear in public. Everybody does it minds its own business. Problem, none.

Somebody starts tracking everybody's movement and puts it in a database: RED ALERT. No matter what the justification.

IS this really such a big deal? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39833945)

As much as I like google, I would be the first one to complain if I thought they were doing something wrong. But let's think about this:

1. If they were capturing unencrypted packets from non-secured WiFi networks.... that would be creepy, but probably not illegal. Anyone who sets up an unencrypted network should expect that other people might use it to just listen in. Google would just be picking up information they were already broadcasting in the clear.
2. If they were capturing encrypted packets then... they have useless data.

And the car was moving, which means that in case 1, they may have a dozen packets each from millions of different routers. They weren't parking somewhere to capture all of someone'S data, but got lots of random garbage instead. I am sure all they were interested in was the BSSID in order to tag it to a location.

Now, if they were trying to crack encrypted WLAN packets, then legal or not, there is something very suspicious going on - especially if they kept it secret.

Re:IS this really such a big deal? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39833985)

See, none of this would've happened if Google didn't openly admit to their mistake without prompting like they did when this story first broke. So let this be an important lesson, kids: Never do the right thing, or you'll suffer for it for the rest of your life.

Oh, and it goes without saying, Google is obviously teh evil for doing the right thing and admitting the problem before anyone asked, blah blah blah, you know how it goes.

Re:IS this really such a big deal? (5, Interesting)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#39834029)

Well, in an ideal world you'd be right on point #1, but this isn't an ideal world, we (in the UK) have a clause in the Computer Misuse Act 1990 (section 1(a) and 1(b) in fact), that instantly criminalises the capture of (ANY) data by an unauthorised person - which makes wardriving illegal, more than that it makes scanning for local wifi networks illegal - unless you knock all your neighbours and ask them permission first!

Re:IS this really such a big deal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39834159)

So what you're saying is that, in the UK, virtually every WiFi user in range of any other WiFi user has been a criminal for the past 22 years, by virtue of their equipment's standard operations?

Re:IS this really such a big deal? (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#39834421)

technically - yes!

Re:IS this really such a big deal? (1)

emj (15659) | more than 2 years ago | (#39837045)

I challenge you to find one case where someone got sentenced for scanning for open Wifi networks, or just took a plea bargain. Scanning for SSIDs is the same as scanning for an FM radio.

Re:IS this really such a big deal? (2)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#39841027)

Re:IS this really such a big deal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39834179)

When you guys Elect Hitler, send us a postcard. Do you guys have any rights over there?

Re:IS this really such a big deal? (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#39834473)

Well, we do have a written Constitution - although you're taught in school that we don't. From the lies we're told in school, this is the one thing that follows through adulthood - if it's not specifically allowed, then it's illegal. As opposed to the sane way of doing things - if it's not specifically prohibited then it's legal.

Follows (and this is one of my favourite phrases): any activity which requires a license* to be legal, must be fundamentally LAWFUL.

*read: permission slip. Are you children? Do you need to ask permission to do something which by now is likely second nature (ie operating a radio, TV, car, firearm) to you?

Re:IS this really such a big deal? (2)

Qwavel (733416) | more than 2 years ago | (#39834105)

No, it isn't such a big deal.

Not only did they never do anything with this payload data, there is no record of them ever planning to do anything with it, and it's actually pretty hard to even think of anything they realistically could have done with it (without devolving into paranoid conspiracy theories). Which all supports the theory that collecting the data was not part of the master-plan.

But there is something wrong with Google only paying $50K penalty for non-cooperation.
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/google-pay-25-000-fcc-113025671.html [yahoo.com]

The penalty should have been calibrated to the size of the company so that it hurt. If you don't like the gov' snooping into the private business of corporations then vote for Ron Paul, but in the mean-time companies must comply with investigations, or face penalties that aren't a joke.

Re:IS this really such a big deal? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39837533)

Bullshit. They have never deleted the data. The data contains all of the MAC addresses either mapped directly to a physical location or at least the general area. Once you know the area Internet traffic is being directed to you will eventually be able to figure out whose whose house it is. e.g. Signal strength was strongest at address A and B. Public records show an old couple lives at address B. Address A is occupied by a single man in his 20s. Which house can we most probably tie the recorded porn searches to? Now every time people search or browse the Internet that traffic is tied to a physical location. i.e. a fucking goldmine of data for advertising companies. You are very naive.

Re:IS this really such a big deal? (2)

fluffy99 (870997) | more than 2 years ago | (#39835783)

I am sure all they were interested in was the BSSID in order to tag it to a location.

I would guess they were probably also grabbing the mac address of the router.. This fits in nicely with the recent revelation that Apple and some browser plugins were tracking users by using the mac address of the gateway as a unique ID.

Re:IS this really such a big deal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39838103)

Actually, it is illegal. It is the same as using a scanner to listen to your neighbors unencrypted cordless phone conversation. Privacy in communications is an established right in the US, except when the government wants your data.

Didn't bother to read the memo... (3, Insightful)

Local ID10T (790134) | more than 2 years ago | (#39833951)

Actually, this sounds like most managers I know.

Managers of the Street View program said they did not read the October 2006 document [written by the engineer that detailed his work].

Re:Didn't bother to read the memo... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39833995)

That they just didn't bother to read it or that they are trying to cover their ass by feigning ignorance?

Re:Didn't bother to read the memo... (3, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#39834177)

I don't remember.

Re:Didn't bother to read the memo... (4, Interesting)

war4peace (1628283) | more than 2 years ago | (#39834023)

Not just what some management people said, but everything in this affair is a classic case of corporate snafu. I'm seeing these things every day.
About 18 months ago I was requested to build some Excel macro which would parse a pile of structured data from a table and generate a snapshot report based off that. Multiple people in various locations had to run that file every hour, interpret the results and take action if certain thresholds were met. Now thresholds started to be met but action was not taken, so their management asked them "so, what's up, why are you not taking action?". They said "it must be the macro because we run it every hour and it doesn't tell us that thresholds have been met". management came to me and asked me what's up, and I could tell them, because the macro contained a very simple (primitive even) log. Each time the report was run, an entry was stored in the file in a hidden spreadsheet which could be shown by pressing a button on the form and entering a very simple password (which was stored in the VBA code as a plain text string). As I was saying, primitive.
So I asked for all the files which had been distributed to those people and checked the logs.
Some of them had never opened the file. Some others had run the script a few times then abandoned it. All others ran it pretty irregularly, the most often run pace being once a day. Nobody ran it every hour.
So I centralized the logs, went back to management and told them "here's what happens: your guys don't run the reports. That's how I know: I've been logging their activities.". They said "thank you" and nothing changed ever since.

The above is an example of someone writing extra code which might prove to be illegal and nobody giving a shit, although they have been informed. As I was saying, typical corporate snafu...

Re:Didn't bother to read the memo... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39838081)

You need to understand how Google works. It's an engineering company and, as such, a lot of the managers there are engineers. That means those guys are very good at technical tasks but most of the time have little, if any, people's skills and no clue of how to do management work.

Many of the old timers have become untouchable so, no matter how big they screw up, someone else down the hierarchy will pay for their mistakes. Google does not understand that you delegate tasks but, as manager, it is your responsibility. A couple of good examples of this are the Real Names fiasco, which had no consequences for Vic Gundotra (he still acts like the big asshole he is) and the shutting down of Google's Atlanta office, which should have resulted in Sundar Pichai's immediate termination, yet no action has been taken to put this stupid clown in the street, where he belongs.

--
Looking for a software engineering position in the Atlanta area. Sundar Pichai's incompetence has resulted in me losing my job.

Management's justifications (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39833957)

They are putting responsibility for the data gathering on a 'rogue engineer' who wrote the code for it without direction from management.

An engineer who worked closely with the engineer in question on the project in 2007, reviewing all of the codes line by line for bugs, says he did not notice that the software was designed to capture payload data. A senior manager said he preapproved the document before it was written."

Isn't interesting in Corporate America, when things go great, it's management's brilliance? And when things go bad, it's a rogue employee?

I'd really like to know management's justification for their obscenely high compensation, for one thing.

Here's another thing while I'm ranting:That's one of the big differences between managing and leading.

Leader: it's MY fault and I'll take care of it.

Manager: it's someone elses fault. You go take care of it.

Re:Management's justifications (1)

Tasha26 (1613349) | more than 2 years ago | (#39836175)

This is really a lol situation.

Google: Sure, we pay people good money to review code and sign on it, but who actually has time to do what they are paid to do? TBH we're all saints except for that one guy. We believe he worked for the chinese government!

Re:Management's justifications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39845257)

To err is human. To blame someone else shows management potential.

OH PUHLEASSSSEEEE! (3, Insightful)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | more than 2 years ago | (#39833959)

If I had a nickel for every time I've inserted code (especially the "I've got the data in my hand, why don't I save it somewhere" kind) "without direction from management" that I ABSOLUTELY KNEW was useful and/or going to be asked for as soon as they thought of it anyways; well, let's just say I could have retired early. Call me a "rogue".

Re:OH PUHLEASSSSEEEE! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39834099)

I'll call you a "nethack" instead.

Re:OH PUHLEASSSSEEEE! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39835815)

If I had a nickel for every time I've inserted code (especially the "I've got the data in my hand, why don't I save it somewhere" kind) "without direction from management" that I ABSOLUTELY KNEW was useful and/or going to be asked for as soon as they thought of it anyways; well, let's just say I could have retired early. Call me a "rogue".

I work in the medical diagnostic device industry and I've also done the same: insert code to collect useful data on the product and its usage knowing that it was not specified or requested in the product's design but I felt it would be demanded/requested later. This has saved me tons of work in re-releasing later and earned me kudos for forward-thinking. It's a natural phenomenon for many geeks. In my cases, there have never been privacy issues. Perhaps this is similar as well?

Managers' Fault (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39833965)

The developer documented his work and sent the documentation out to others on the team (including the managers). It's the managers' jobs to make sure the developers understand the requirements correctly. In fact, the developer was working on the project in order to capture the data and study it to see if it would of use to Google.

What are the managers doing if they aren't managing the engineers? We might have to stay late writing code, but are they staying late reading documents and getting up to speed on what everyone is doing? Isn't that their job? I'm still in school so please correct me if I'm wrong.

Re:Managers' Fault (3, Insightful)

busyqth (2566075) | more than 2 years ago | (#39833997)

What are the managers doing if they aren't managing the engineers? We might have to stay late writing code, but are they staying late reading documents and getting up to speed on what everyone is doing? Isn't that their job? I'm still in school so please correct me if I'm wrong.

Of course it's their job. And they probably did it.
However, when the Federal Government comes sniffing around it's very convenient to forget that you read the document.

Re:Managers' Fault (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39834289)

In the government contracts world, we pay about triple due to requiring that soul-crushing level of management oversight on knowledge workers. When I was in the IT world, smart people left companies that did that. This explains both Google's success and NG's miserable failure.

Symptom of a flat org? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39833981)

My understanding is that Google has a very flat org structure that encourages developer autonomy. There aren't a lot of managers peeking over developer's shoulders. Doesn't that encourage innovation like this?

Re:Symptom of a flat org? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39836047)

And also innovation that allowed them to become one of the most profitable companies in the history of humanity. Big ups, big downs. Suck a cock, fuckface.

"rogue" engineer my ass (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39834011)

This is nothing but whitewash bullshit.
Wasn't the previous ruse that it was some unknown feature of the equipment purchased?
I want names, charges laid, penalty imposed.
Fuck Google.

Which just goes to show... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39834057)

That most software engineers are not really engineers. If you were working on the design for a bridge, and gave this kind of 'dog ate my homework' answer at the inquest into its collapse, you'd lose your license and never work again.

Sounds familiar (1)

Antonovich (1354565) | more than 2 years ago | (#39834073)

Sounds a lot like the Jérôme Kerviel fiasco... "Oh no, we had no idea what the person was doing. He may well have talked about it at length during meetings - our jobs are very complicated and we couldn't possible know what all 4 of the people we manage are doing. That would entail us taking an interest in our jobs when there are clearly far more important things to do like playing golf!".

What if they were capturing voice communications? (2)

iceperson (582205) | more than 2 years ago | (#39834107)

I don't understand why this was legal. Had the non-encrypted wireless transmissions they captured been voice wouldn't that have been covered under current wiretapping laws? If so, why is this different? Not trying to troll, just wondering why non-encrypted wireless data communications transmitted over the air are assumed free game.

Also, what if they were capturing encrypted communications over an open wifi signal (ie, someone browsing an HTTPS site.) Wouldn't they have still captured that data? Does it make a difference now that they are capturing encrypted packets?

Re:What if they were capturing voice communication (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39834343)

IANOL, but most 'wiretapping' laws don't apply, at all, to wireless communications. It's even in the name. From a common-sense perspective it's utterly insane to criminalize the act of recording or interpreting radio waves received in a public space.

Re:What if they were capturing voice communication (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39838175)

It is absolutely illegal to intercept wireless communications, and not insane at all. But you have to realize that most of the laws were written when encryption was not technically feasible. When HBO first came out, it was broadcast clear over the air, but you had to rent a box to receive the station. Once black-market receivers started popping up, they lobbied and made it a crime to use one of these boxes.

Re:What if they were capturing voice communication (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39837429)

If the signal had been voice, it would have been absolutely legal to listen in, including even if they are police, paramedics, fire brigades, aircraft, etc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scanner_%28radio%29

Google should grow some balls (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#39834111)

Instead of sacrificing a scapegoat Google should man up and tell the FCC to fuck off. Those who broadcast their personal data in every direction have no claim of privacy.

Re:Google should grow some balls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39835193)

Replying to Hentes (2461350)--feel free to post your personal data out in the open, starting from here. After all, you'll have no claim of privacy either.

What if you won't do it? Then you must have some sort of privacy fear.

Your statement is part of what sets up a dangerous precident: just because someone's data ends up out in the open does not mean it is free and clear for anyone to capture and do whatever they want with it. I can find anyone's open Wi-fi network using my mobile phone that supports Wi-fi, that does not give me an automatic right to connect to it (the laws require they give me permission) and keeping any data that may be open.

Re:Google should grow some balls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39835755)

you retard. go learn how wifi works, then go kill yourself before your broken genes spread.

Re:Google should grow some balls (1)

fluffy99 (870997) | more than 2 years ago | (#39835793)

Instead of sacrificing a scapegoat Google should man up and tell the FCC to fuck off. Those who broadcast their personal data in every direction have no claim of privacy.

Except they don't. Try telling the FCC you listen in on cell calls and see if they press charges.

Re:Google should grow some balls (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#39838491)

While GSM security isn't perfect, it's far from being unencrypted either, if you want to eavesdrop on a phonecall you have to do some hacking for it. This is more like putting up a billboard in your garden with your data written on it, or phoning in into a program telling them your mother's name and then suing everyone with a radio.

nig6a (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39834357)

JOIN THE GNAA!! parties). At THE you are a 5creaming

nobody's fault (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39834427)

man that nobody sure gets around

Reminds me of a certain German saying: (1)

dronkert (820667) | more than 2 years ago | (#39835073)

"Wir haben es nicht gewusst!" (orig.: after 1945)

This pretty much defines thrown under the bus. (1)

murdocj (543661) | more than 2 years ago | (#39835075)

So no one else knew about it? Not the people who wrote the software to parse the data? Not the guy who had to estimate how many terabytes of disk would be required? No one?

And for those who say "people were broadcasting their information" guess what, that still doesn't make circulating a fleet of vehicle to monitor everything OK. Google's "collect everything that isn't nailed down, apologize later" attitude was just plain wrong.

Management pre-approval (1)

waynemcdougall (631415) | more than 2 years ago | (#39835103)

Moderators please note that this post has been pre-approved +5 insightful before it was written

20% rogue or more than that? (1)

dragisha (788) | more than 2 years ago | (#39835925)

I think we were all made to think how right measure of rogueness is what makes good Google engineer.

Or we just didn't read full specification of what 20%, free initiative time, is allowed to be spent on?

Like: You are allowed/obliged to spend 20% of time on projects of your choosing as long as it does not result in federal lawsuit?

IANAL, but something like that...

Reminds me of Japanese organisations. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39837249)

Whenever a Japanese company gets into dark waters, they just force some lowly employee to voluntarily resign.
If a yakuza clan orders a hit, and the police find out, they let them nick the hitman and deny all involvement.

Wait a minute ... (1)

AdiBean (653963) | more than 2 years ago | (#39837253)

Let me get this straight ... the engineer in question fully documented what he (or she) was doing, and provided that documentation to management. Then there was a code review by another engineer. How, exactly, does this make him a rouge ???

The employer is still responsible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39838611)

Vicarious liability.

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