FTC to penalize Google $22.5 million for Safari privacy breach

Google will be required to pay a $22.5 million civil penalty for bypassing the privacy settings of users of Apple's Safari web browser, reports Reuters. An anonymous source, who was not authorized to speak on the record, said that the Federal Trade Commission voted to approve a consent degree, which allows Google to settle the investigation but not admit to liability.

According to another anonymous source, the actual official announcement will come within the next few days.

The investigation started when it was alleged that Google was using cookies to track Safari users who had disabled such tracking. Google claims that the tracking was not intentional, and that no personal information was collected, such as names, contact information or credit card data. The FTC started the probe because Google's tracking might have violated a consent decree signed in 2011, in which Google said that it would not misrepresent its privacy policies.

While Google did not comment on this settlement or others from other governments, including the European Union, a spokesperson said the investigation was due to a help center web page from 2009 that existed before the change in Safari's cookie-handling policies.

"We have now changed that page and taken steps to remove the ad cookies, which collected no personal information, from Apple's browsers," a Google spokeswoman told Reuters in a statement.

Source: Reuters

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16 Comments

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I'm curious, what legal requirement does Google have to honor an http header? It's all well and good to have the FTC arbitrarily enforcing compliance with honor system internet standards when we agree with it.

" the Federal Trade Commission voted to approve a consent degree, which allows Google to settle the investigation but not admit to liability."

Now that rankles me why should they get away with not admitting Liability if you do the crime be prepared to do the time bleeding FTC all bark and no byte

Screw simply fining them. Disband that invasive, obnoxious, untrustworth WHOLE company!!

That is EXACTLY what the government needs to start doing to a whole lot of big companies that think they can do what ever they want, just because they have tons of cash!!

If they start upping the fines, and fine them for More, this could be a way to get rid of the American Debt

thenonhacker said,

They use it to buy Diablo 3.

Are they going to "invest" it all on rare items in the real money auction house?

aviator189 said,
that's really nothing for google. a larger fine would've sent stronger message.

Yes, but that's how many fines against them in the past two years? That's adding up for them.

aviator189 said,
that's really nothing for google. a larger fine would've sent stronger message.
The way the justice system works is that you pay fines that are based on averages in most cases. It isn't a large fine for Google, however a normal sized company would find it to be a fairly high fine. If you fine one company $1million for something, all others get fined the same for the same infraction. Could they fine Google for $1 billion, sure. The result would be devastating in the larger scheme of things because a smaller company would face the same fine of $1 billion and would be ruined. The goal of fines is not to force a company into bankruptcy. It is to curb behavior.

Pocket change for Google, not that I care much about the breach. I'd fine Apple for leaving the vulnerability, but mostly because I'm anti-Apple. ^^

thenetavenger said,
Sadly, the penalty is probably far less than what they made from the information obtained.

Could be, but we have no idea how Google used the information collected from Safari browsers.

thenetavenger said,
Sadly, the penalty is probably far less than what they made from the information obtained.

That could probably be said about most fines and most punishments in general tbh.