The Federal Trade Commission released information this morning that because of their misrepresentation to users of Apple’s Safari Internet browser, Google has agreed to pay a record $22.5 million civil penalty to settle charges from the FTC.
The $22.5 million fine is the largest in FTC history. Earlier this year an investigation found that Google had placed advertising cookies on the computers of Safari users who visited sites on Google’s DoubleClick ad network. Users were told by Google that they would automatically be opted out of the tracking, but Google kept tracking them anyway.
“The record setting penalty in this matter sends a clear message to all companies under an FTC privacy order,” said Jon Leibowitz, Chairman of the FTC. “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.”
The FTC charged that Google violated a settlement the two sides reached back in October of 2011 which barred Google from misrepresenting the extent consumers can control their private information. The charges against Google is part of a wider effort by the FTC to make sure companies maintain their privacy promises to consumers.