Google to pay $17 million for unauthorized tracking of Safari users

By on November 19, 2013, 9:15 AM
google, safari, privacy, cookies

Google has agreed on Monday to pay $17 million to 37 states and the District of Columbia to settle the charges of unauthorized online tracking of Safari browser users in 2011 and 2012. The states had alleged that Google, in a serious violation of consumer privacy and protection laws, secretly stored web tracking cookies by exploiting a technological loophole in Apple's Safari browser, which doesn't allow third-party cookies by default.

These cookies recorded web surfing habits of Safari users and helped Google present targeted ads to them.

This is the second time Google has been fined by US authorities over privacy violations of Safari users. Last year, the company agreed to pay $22.5 million in order to settle similar charges from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). This is the highest penalty the FTC has  collected for a civil violation.

Google did not admit to any wrongdoing as part of the settlement. The company said the cookie issue was accidental and that it was corrected as soon as it was made public. Also, no personal information was collected from Apple's browser, the company claimed.

The $17 million fine over 'Safari-gate' is a very tiny fraction of Google's annual revenue, which touched $50 billion last year. The company has earlier been accused of various privacy breaches including unauthorized data collection by Street View cars, wiretapping Gmail inboxes, and more.

User Comments: 3

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1 person liked this | Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

Who gets the moolah? Somehow I don't think it's the people they were tracking.

MilwaukeeMike said:

Fire up the irony alert on this one...

The Govt is fining a company for privacy concerns when they are guilty of worse. (Yeah, I know, what the govt does is 'legal'.)

Google is being fined for privacy violations when they have been very vocally against what the govt does to invade our privacy.

And none of it really matters because targeting ads is something that's actually GOOD. Does anyone really care if a man gets ads for tools while a woman gets ads for shoes? I wish there was more targeting on some cases... No joke, I've put together a playlist of fairy tale stories for my 5 year old on Spotify only to have them interrupted by Texas Chainsaw Massacre in 3D ads and ads for Trojan man.

The real (and only) injustice here is that the govt gets the $17 million of all those 'violated' customers. I think everyone who's running safari should get a check for a couple bucks.

Fbarnett Fbarnett said:

Lol that is like 2 seconds of profit to them

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