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 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.
Google isn't acknowledging any wrongdoing in the settlement.