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Sussex father quizzed over Google privacy row
A Sussex father-of-three has been quizzed by US investigators as part of a Google privacy row.
Former Lancing College pupil Marius Milner was named by the New York Times as an anonymous Google employee who wrote the computer code that allowed personal data to be intercepted by the internet giant’s Street View cars.
Mr Milner, whose father lives in Shoreham, hit headlines across the world because of fresh controversy about software that allowed emails and other WiFi data to be intercepted by Google’s Street View cars.
He used his rights under the fifth amendment of the US Constitution to refuse to answer FCC questions during its investigations.
The Street View project was an ambitious plan to photograph the world’s streets but the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) found that code to collect unencrypted data sent from homes by computers, including emails, was also installed.
The Street View vehicles have recently been spotted again on Sussex streets, leading to speculation that the internet giant is updating its photographs of the county.
Now the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said it could take further action against the company once it has studied a report by its American counterpart, the Federal Communications Commission.
Google admitted two years ago some data had been taken but said it was a “mistake”.
From his home in Shoreham Mr Milner’s father Gerald, 85, described his “bright” son, who now lives in the US with his wife, Liz Meldrum.
He said: “At school he came top in everything. He was always interested in technology and was quite a serious child.”
An ICO spokeswoman said yesterday: “Google Inc provided us with a formal undertaking about their future conduct in November 2010, following their failure in relation to the collection of WiFi data by their Street View cars.
“This included a provision for the ICO to audit their privacy practices. The results of the audit were published in August 2011, and there will be a formal follow-up process within the next couple of months to ensure our recommendations have been put in place. All personal data unlawfully collected by Google has been destroyed. We are currently studying the FCC’s report and will consider what further action, if any, needs to be taken.”
A Google spokesman said: "We have always been clear that the leaders of this project did not want or intend to use this payload data.
"Indeed Google never used it in any of our products or services. Both the Department of Justice and the FCC have looked into this closely--including reviewing the internal correspondence--and both found no violation of law.”