Google has agreed to pay a hefty $22.5 million fine for going around user privacy settings in Apple’s Safari web browser.
The Mountain View-based online ads leader received a court order to pay off almost $23 million, the largest obligatory fine in the history of the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), as penalty for using special code to avoid the built-in user privacy controls in Safari.
The circumvention gave Google the ability to monitor online activities of users who accessed the Internet via Apple’s web browser. This means the online search and ads company violated its 20-year agreement with the FTC of being “open and honest” on its privacy practices.
FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said, “The record setting penalty in this matter sends a clear message to all companies under an FTC privacy order. No matter how big or small, all companies must abide by FTC orders against them and keep their privacy promises to consumers, or they will end up paying many times what it would have cost to comply in the first place.”
Google has published a statement to answer the ruling, saying,
We set the highest standards of privacy and security for our users. The FTC is focused on a 2009 help center page published more than two years before our consent decree, and a year before Apple changed its cookie-handling policy.
We have now changed that page and taken steps to remove the ad cookies, which collected no personal information, from Apple’s browsers.
However, this is not the only tracking job that Google has been alleged of doing, as the company is also involved in an Australian probe (and many others) with regards to the removal of users’ private data collected by its Street View cars.
Source: The Guardian
Image: Carlos Luna via Flickr (CC)