Google pays $7 million to settle Wi-Fi privacy case, New York gets $192,000 share

Google will pay a $7 million fine to settle a multistate investigation into the Internet search leader's interception of emails, passwords and other sensitive information sent several years ago over unprotected wireless neighborhoods scattered throughout the world.

The agreement announced Tuesday covers 38 states, including New York, and the District of Columbia.

It closes an inquiry opened in 2010 shortly after Google revealed that company cars taking street-level photos for its online mapping service also had been grabbing personal data transmitted over Wi-Fi networks that had been set up in homes and businesses without requiring a password to gain access.

It's the largest penalty that Google Inc. has paid so far in the U.S. for the snooping. News of the penalty leaked out last week.

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman says that New Yorkâ??s share of the settlement is approximately $192,000.

"Consumers have a right to protect their vital personal and financial information from improper and unwanted use by corporations like Google," said Schneiderman in a media release.

Under the terms of the agreement, the information collected will be destroyed. Google has disabled or removed the software and equipment that was used to collect such information. The company agreed not to collect any additional information without notice and consent.

Google also agreed that personal data its Street View cars collected will not be used in any product or service or be disclosed to any third party, according to Schneiderman. Other elements of the agreement require Google to launch, and operate for at least 10 years, an employee training program about user data privacy and confidentiality.

Google isn't acknowledging any wrongdoing in the settlement.

(Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.)