Source: Google to pay $7M to settle Wi-Fi case (Update)

March 9, 2013 by Michael Liedtke

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 neighborhoods scattered around America.

The resolution will close a joint investigation by attorneys general in about 30 U.S. 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 . revealed that company cars taking street-level for its online also had been vacuuming up transmitted over that weren't protected by . 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 U.S. 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.

Google has maintained it didn't break any U.S. laws by grabbing information sent over open networks, but has repeatedly apologized for a breach of online etiquette. The company, which is based in Mountain View, California, issued another note of contrition when contacted Friday.

"We work hard to get privacy right at Google," the company said. "But in this case we didn't, which is why we quickly tightened up our systems to address the issue."

The $7 million will represent the largest sum that the Google has paid so far in the various U.S. investigations into the so-called "Wi-Spy" matter. Last year, the Federal Communications Commission fined Google $25,000 for impeding its investigation. The Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission both decided not to penalize Google after looking into the Wi-Fi data-gathering.

Google has committed other privacy gaffes that have gotten it into trouble with the FTC. In the most expensive episode so far, Google last year faced allegations that it had been secretly tracking the online activities of Web surfers using Apple Inc.'s Safari browser. Without acknowledging any wrongdoing, paid a $22.5 million fine to the FTC in that case.

Explore further: FTC ends inquiry into Google 'Street View' data collection

0 shares

Related Stories

SKorean police say Google collects personal info

January 6, 2011

(AP) -- Google Inc. collected e-mails and other personal information from unsecured wireless networks in South Korea while taking photographs for its Street View mapping service, police said Thursday.

SKorean police say Google violated laws

January 13, 2011

(AP) -- Police said Thursday that Google Inc. violated South Korean laws and referred the case to state prosecutors, adding to a slew of privacy cases the world's largest search engine is facing.

Recommended for you

Power grid forecasting tool reduces costly errors

July 30, 2015

Accurately forecasting future electricity needs is tricky, with sudden weather changes and other variables impacting projections minute by minute. Errors can have grave repercussions, from blackouts to high market costs. ...

Microsoft describes hard-to-mimic authentication gesture

August 1, 2015

Photos. Messages. Bank account codes. And so much moreā€”sit on a person's mobile device, and the question is, how to secure them without having to depend on lengthy password codes of letters and numbers. Vendors promoting ...

Netherlands bank customers can get vocal on payments

August 1, 2015

Are some people fed up with remembering and using passwords and PINs to make it though the day? Those who have had enough would prefer to do without them. For mobile tasks that involve banking, though, it is obvious that ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.