Google reportedly to be fined over Safari privacy breach

Google may be forced to pay a fine to the US government thanks to its alleged breach of the privacy protections in Apple's Safari web browser. Bloomberg reports that Google is currently in negotiations with the Federal Trade Commission over how big the fine might be.

One source claims that the amount of the fine could be as much as $10 million. If a fine is levied against Google, it would be the first such punishment for violating Internet privacy standards by the FTC.

The privacy flaw was first discovered in February by Stanford researcher Jonathan Mayer. The breach allowed Google and the other companies to keep tabs on the activities of Safari users via a tracking cookie. Google later said it would disable the code.

Microsoft slammed Google for the practice, saying at the time, "This type of tracking by Google is not new. The novelty here is that Google apparently circumvented the privacy protections built into Apple’s Safari browser in a deliberate, and ultimately, successful fashion." 

The Safari breach also attracted the attention of members of the US Congress. California Representative Mary Bono Mack said, " ... these types of incidents continue to create consumer concerns about how their personal information is used and shared."

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15 Comments

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How is it Google can "negotiate" the fine? What a crock!!

I hope they get their a**es sued to the max!

Google, Gmail and anything and everything associated with said company doesn't care about privacy in the least little bit.

They have been on the top of my most despised companies list since day one, which is exactly why I refuse to use anything associated with them!

ha ha apple should get it... not google... google just found a flaw that apple's own people should have closed in the first place... no pity for them at all...

I don't know why people are surprised that Google do things like this or buy into that "don't be evil" nonsense. Google is a marketing company, they exist to collect data about you and sell it.

Fined because they didn't conform to another company's application? I didn't know the features in Apple's software had the force of law dictating how others should use them.

Chugworth said,
Fined because they didn't conform to another company's application? I didn't know the features in Apple's software had the force of law dictating how others should use them.

Google knew what they were doing, they found a flaw (which others found also) and used it.

They absolutely knew doing so was wrong, but f**k it, their business model is about advertising, to advertise to the maximum potential you find privacy gets in the way - their entire company is setup in a way that is against privacy, no matter what they say via PR.

So, they knew what they were doing, they did it, now they pay a fine - that fine with me

Chugworth said,
Fined because they didn't conform to another company's application? I didn't know the features in Apple's software had the force of law dictating how others should use them.

Web Browsers have security issues, what else is new? When some phishing web site exploits a security hole, it's to be expected. But this is Google we are talking about here.

Well what I gather from the two comments above is that it's fine to just issue arbitrary fines and punishments. Is there a specific law that was broken here?

What they did was sneaky, but since Apple closed the loophole Facebook apps (and other third party widgets that use cookies in an iframe, even just session cookies) now don't work properly with the default settings.

mrbester said,
What they did was sneaky, but since Apple closed the loophole Facebook apps (and other third party widgets that use cookies in an iframe, even just session cookies) now don't work properly with the default settings.

If you do want that 3rd party tracking you can enable it obviously, but if the sites themselves don't work without requiring that then it's their issue really.

That "Don't be Evil" mantra sure doesn't help them in all these legal squabbles with the feds huh?

Vice said,
That "Don't be Evil" mantra
has been thrown out the window in recent times as google foist G+ onto every user. Even gmail now has G+ crap splattered throughout the product.

Vice said,
That "Don't be Evil" mantra sure doesn't help them in all these legal squabbles with the feds huh?

Well, since Google no longer believes in not doing evil, it would make sense. Lol