Google To Pay $22.5 Million For Bypassing Privacy Settings In Safari On iOS [Report]

Google To Pay $22.5 Million For Bypassing Privacy Settings In Safari On iOS [Report]

Back in February it was discovered that Google was bypassing Apple’s privacy settings in Mobile Safari on iOS. The search giant was making ad revenue from Safari users’ web activity by ‘tricking’ the default iOS browser to allow multiple tracking cookies.

6 months later, and Google is about to pay the “largest penalty ever levied on a single company” by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Google will pay $22.5 million to settle the charges issued by the FTC, and the code in question has already been disabled by Google in Safari on iOS.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Google officials say tracking of Apple users was inadvertent and didn’t cause any harm to consumers. But Google’s actions appeared to contradict previous statements it had made assuring Apple users that they could rely on Safari’s privacy settings to block unwanted tracking.

Google said in a statement, “The FTC is focused on a 2009 help center page.…We have now changed that page and taken steps to remove the ad cookies,” referring to the small computer files that can enable tracking of people’s online activities.

Once the fine is payed, the FTC’s investigation will finally be concluded. The main stink originally was that Google was tracking Apple’s users and serving ads in violation of Safari’s privacy settings and without the end user’s permission. Hopefully Google has learned not to employ such tracking tactics in the future.

Google now offers its own Chrome browser in the iOS App Store, and Apple has ditched Google for its own mapping technology in iOS 6.

  • nolavabo

    Do no evil. Unless doing evil can help us track people better, then it’s okay.

About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath is a journalist and co-host of The CultCast. He has been quoted by the likes of the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." He lives in Lexington, Kentucky. If you want to pitch a story, share a tip, or just get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Follow him on Twitter.

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