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"SAN FRANCISCO — Google’s harvesting of e-mails, passwords and other sensitive personal information from unsuspecting households in the United States and around the world was neither a mistake nor the work of a rogue engineer, as the company long maintained, but a program that supervisors knew about, according to new details from the full text of a regulatory report.
The so-called payload data was secretly collected between 2007 and 2010 as part of Street View
Google has portrayed it as the mistakes of an unauthorized engineer operating on his own and stressed that the data was never used in any Google product.
The report, quoting the engineer’s original proposal, gives a somewhat different impression. The data, the engineer wrote, would “be analyzed offline for use in other initiatives.”
“Google’s rogue engineer scenario collapses in light of the fact that others were aware of the project and did not object,” said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.