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Google facing record $22.5 million fine over Safari privacy

updated 07:43 am EDT, Tue July 10, 2012

Google to settle Safari privacy breach for $22.5 million

The FTC is set to hand Google a record $22.5 million fine for bypassing the privacy settings in Apple's Safari browser, reports the Wall Street Journal. The search and mobile giant is said to be close to settling the matter, although the deal still needs to be ratified by the full panel of FTC commissioners. If indeed Google agrees to settle the breach for the $22.5 million figure, it will represent the largest fine the FTC has handed to a single entity.

Ironically, Google's infraction came just 8 months into a 20 year consent decree that it had entered into with the FTC in which it had agreed not to misrepresent its privacy practices to consumers. Despite this, Google created code that overrode Safari's default cookie privacy setting which only accepts cookies from sites visited by users. It claims it did this to enable users of its +1 button as part of its Google+ social network and that users actually wanted the function enabled.

What makes the infraction worse, is the it allowed Google's DoubleClick ad network to set tracking cookies allowing Google to track user web activity unbeknownst to the user. Google has since disabled the function although it is just the latest in a series of privacy intrusions by the company. As the single largest online search engine, along with being the purveyor of Android, the world's most widely used mobile operating system, Google has access to a wealth of user data that it uses to target its advertising.

by MacNN Staff



  1. mgpalma

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 09-27-00

    I'd like to know which Federal Government agency will get this nice infusion of cash...

  1. Charles Martin

    MacNN Editor

    Joined: 08-04-01

    Second word in the article -- the FTC.

    If you're not aware, the Federal Trade Commission regulates advertising.

    But while the fine may be "record-setting," I don't see how this will be any disincentive whatsoever to stop Google breaking the rules it agreed to abide by once again ...

    Now 22.5 BILLION, that might have convinced Google that maybe they should play by the rules and stop being evil. Plus it would have been a great help to the government's war efforts, sorry I mean deficit reduction ... :lol:

  1. And.reg

    Mac Elite

    Joined: 02-22-04

    Greetings. I am unable to delete my posts, and apparently you moderators are on some kind of a strike.

    Therefore, I have removed the content of the original post by hand.

    I am asking for this post to be deleted, since I don't seem to have the option to do that myself.

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