Reports were circulating in the press Friday that Google is about to cut a deal with state attorneys general to close their investigation of the Wi-Spy case.
Google sent specially equipped cars to travel the highways of the world snapping photos of everything they passed. What Google did not say was that were also sniffing out Wi-Fi networks and collecting private data on those networks, including
passwords, account numbers and email messages.
When first confronted, Google executives denied sucking up the data. Then they said it was all a mistake. Then they said it was the work of a rouge engineer. The Federal Trade Commission stepped into to investigate, but dropped the probe after Google ensured the Comission it won't happen again.
The Federal Communication Commission also opened a probe ultimately fining Google $25,000 for hindering its investigation. The FCC also found that the Wi-Fi snooping had been deliberate and that senior managers had been aware of it. The FCC said it could not determine if the law had been broken because the engineer who designed the Wi-Fi snooping exercised is Fifth Amendment rights and declined to testify.
Meanwhile, under the leadership of then Connecticut Attorney Richard Blumenthal, more than 30 state attorneys general launched their investigation of the incident. It's that state attorneys general probe that is reportedly about to be settled for $7 million.
Google made $10.7 billion profit on revenues of $50.2 billion in 2012.
According to John Simpson of Consumer Watchdog "Google is buying it's way out of a jam with what for the Internet giant is pocket change."