Google to pay $22.5 million to settle charges over privacy violation

The payment would be to settle charges that Google used computer code to trick Apple’s Safari browser software into letting the company monitor users that had blocked such tracking, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal, citing officials briefed on the settlement terms.

The settlement still awaits approval by the FTC commissioners and could be changed before it is finalized, the report noted.

Google’s practice was first reported on by the newspaper in February, and Google quickly disabled the code when contacted by the Journal. Google said the practice was inadvertent, an all-too-familiar excuse when privacy violations are involved.

The FTC probe focused on whether the bypassing of Safari’s privacy settings violated Google’s consent agreement signed with the agency following a probe into privacy problems with its ill-fated Google Buzz social network.

In the Buzz case, Goggle agreed to a settlement in which the company would be prohibited from future privacy misrepresentations. It also required Google to implement a comprehensive privacy program, in addition to regular independent privacy audits over the next 20 years.

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