Google to Pay $17M Settlement Over Secret Safari User Tracking

The states claim that during 2011 and 2012, Google failed to inform Safari users that it was overriding the browser’s cookie blocking settings to track and gather behavioral information on web surfers without their knowledge or authorization
The states claim that during 2011 and 2012, Google failed to inform Safari users that it was overriding the browser’s cookie blocking settings to track and gather behavioral information on web surfers without their knowledge or authorization

The states claim that during 2011 and 2012, Google failed to inform Safari users that it was overriding the browser’s cookie blocking settings to track and gather behavioral information on web surfers without their knowledge or authorization.

The settlement also contains an injunction preventing Google from ever again deploying the type of code used to override privacy settings without the consumer’s consent. It also prohibits misrepresenting or omitting material information to consumers about how they can use any particular Google product, service or tool to directly manage how Google serves advertisements to their browsers. And, Google is required now to improve the information it gives consumers regarding cookies, their purpose and how the cookies are managed by consumers using Google’s products or services and tools.

"Consumers should be able to know whether there are other eyes surfing the web with them,” said Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman of New York, which will receive $899,580, in a statement. “By tracking millions of people without their knowledge, Google violated not only their privacy, but also their trust.”

He added, "We must give consumers the reassurance that they can browse the Internet safely and securely. My office will continue to protect New Yorkers from any attempts to deliberately expose their personal data."

Google generated $2.97 billion in online advertising revenue in the third quarter, out of $14.89 billion total revenue – a sizeable percentage. Through its DoubleClick advertising platform, Google sets small files in consumers’ web browsers that enable it to gather information about those consumers, including web-surfing habits.

Apple’s Safari Web browser is set by default to block third-party cookies, including cookies set by DoubleClick to track a consumer’s browsing history. The suit alleges that from June 1, 2011, until February 15, 2012, Google altered its DoubleClick coding to circumvent those default privacy settings on Safari, without consumers’ knowledge or consent, enabling it to put DoubleClick cookies on consumers’ Safari web browsers. Google disabled the coding method in February 2012 after the practice was widely reported on the Internet and in the media.

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