Google to pay $7M to settle Wi-Fi case
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Google will pay a $7 million penalty to settle an investigation into the Internet search leader’s collection of emails, passwords and other sensitive information sent over wireless networks several years ago in neighbourhoods scattered around America.
The resolution will close a joint investigation by attorneys general in about 30 US states, according to a person familiar with the matter. The person asked not to be identified because the settlement isn’t expected to be announced until early next week.
The $7 million will be shared among all the states, the person said. Google’s revenue this year is expected to surpass $61 billion. At that pace, Google brings in an average of $7 million in revenue per hour.
The case dates back to 2010 when Google Inc revealed that company cars taking street-level photos for its online mapping service also had been vacuuming up personal data transmitted over wireless networks that weren’t protected by passwords.
Google blamed the snooping, which started in 2007, on an overzealous engineer who installed an intrusive piece of software on equipment that the company said was only supposed to detect the location of wireless networks.
That explanation didn’t placate outraged privacy watchdogs or government regulators in the US and other countries who opened investigations into the company’s surveillance of Wi-Fi networks that were operating mostly in homes and small businesses.
The multistate inquiry in the U.S. initially was being led by Connecticut, which is now part of an executive committee overseeing the matter.
A spokeswoman for Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen declined to say whether Google had agreed to a settlement. The investigation is still “active and ongoing,” Jepsen spokeswoman Susan Kinsman said Friday.