Google Could Be Fined By FTC For Working Around Millions Of Safari Users’ Privacy Settings

Google Could Be Fined By FTC For Working Around Millions Of Safari Users’ Privacy Settings

Wall Street Journal's illustration of how Google's tracking worked on Safari.

A couple of months ago, The Wall Street Journal raised a huge stink when they reported that Google was tracking millions of iOS & Mac Safari users against their wishes using a loophole in the way that Safari’s cookie handling algorithm.

Google on its parts always said it had done nothing wrong, and used known functionality in Safari to make sure their advertising cookies were always stored locally on users’ machines, even if their cookie settings were set to private. Looks like that might not have been enough for the FTC, though, who are now looking to start doling out fines to Google over the issue.

According to a report in the San Jose Mercury News, negotiations between Google and the US Federal Trade Commission have been ongoing, with the FTC looking to see if Google volated a settlement agreement they made in 2011 over privacy concerns related to the now dead-as-a-doornail Google Buzz.

If the FTC decides that Google’s (now ceased) exploitation of the Safari cookie loophole was in violation with their privacy agreement, the search giant could be nailed with fines up to $16,000 per day. Chump change for Google, of course, but it just shows how on edge the government is about privacy these days.

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  • baby_Twitty

    Google = skunks.

    I’ve already stopped using Chrome.
    safari is now my favorite.

  • LyndellKell

    When I do it, it’s hacking, when Google does it, it’s a “Work Around”… I call bull shit

  • FilthyMacNasty

    “Do No Evil,” my ass. Google is one creepy company.

  • 3runjosh

    I am sorry to say this but If you have nothing to hide why worry? Chrome is less of a headache of safari. I would pay a small price to use chrome rather than safari just to have no beachballs. I don’t care if they make a dime of my info it is not like I care if they know i go to google.com, facebook.com. Hell the neighbour I really dislike could go tell someone my first, last, middle name, DOB, address, phone number. Why should I care if google can find out what popular website I am accessing?

  • yapchinhoong

    why bother cuz we actually unable to hide ourselves on the Internet. FBI and CIA have the power. Resistance is futile. :-)

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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