Google receives record fine for bypassing Safari privacy settings

The FTC alleged that Google misrepresented to Safari users that it would not place tracking “cookies” or serve targeted ads to those users, violating an earlier privacy settlement between the company and the FTC over the Google Buzz social network. In addition to the fine, the largest ever levied by the agency for an order violation, the settlement also requires Google to disable all the tracking cookies on consumers’ computers.

As previously reported by Infosecurity, terms of the settlement were leaked to the Wall Street Journal last month.

In its complaint, the FTC charged that for several months in 2011 and 2012, Google placed cookie on the computers of Safari users who visited sites within Google’s DoubleClick advertising network, although Google had previously told them they would automatically be opted out of such tracking because of the default settings of the Safari browser used in Macs, iPhones, and iPads. 

“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”, said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz.

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