SAN FRANCISCO — Google will pay a $7 million fine to settle a multistate investigation into a snoopy software program that enabled the Internet search leader to intercept emails, passwords and other sensitive information sent several years ago over unprotected wireless networks in neighborhoods across the world.
The agreement announced Tuesday covers 38 states and the District of Columbia, part of the area where households and local merchants unwittingly had some of their communications on Wi-Fi networks snatched by Google Inc. from early 2008 until the spring 0f 2010.
Google stopped the data collection in May 2010, shortly before the company revealed cars taking street-level photos for its online mapping service also had been grabbing information transmitted over unsecured Wi-Fi networks.
The company blamed the intrusion on a rogue engineer who rigged a data-collection program into equipment that was supposed to only detect basic information about local Wi-Fi networks to help plot the locations of people using its mapping service and other products.
Executive bonuses — Google is paying nearly $15 million in bonuses to four of the Internet search company’s top executives for their performances last year.
Documents filed Tuesday disclosed Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt will get the biggest award at $6 million to supplement his estimated fortune of $8 billion. Neither Larry Page, CEO and co-founder, nor fellow co-founder Sergey Brin will get a bonus for their work. They have usually settled for a $1 salary since Google went public in 2004.
— The Associated Press