Google 'negotiating FTC fine' after bypassing Safari privacy settings

Summary:Google is understood to be in talks with the FTC over how much it will be fined by the regulator after it bypassed the privacy settings in Apple's Safari browser.

Google is understood to be in talks with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission over how much it will pay in fines after it was found to have breached the privacy settings in Apple's Safari browser.

A person familiar with the negotiations told Bloomberg that the find could amount to more than $10 million, in what would be the second fine this year by U.S. regulators over the search giant's conduct.

The FTC is poised to accuse Google of deceiving its users and violated its 2011 settlement agreement with the regulator over its Google Buzz service.

In April, reports said the FTC was "deep into an investigation" of Google's actions after the search company was accused by a security researcher of bypassing Safari's security settings.

Google used website code to set tracking cookies to allow its Google+ social networking users to access the '+1' button within advertisements. The company admitted to the practice, saying it "created a temporary communication link between Safari browsers and Google’s servers," but since stopped.

The investigation began only a few days after the U.S. Federal Communications Commission said it would impose a $25,000 fine on the company. The FCC said Google "deliberately impeded and delayed" an ongoing probe into the collection of Wi-Fi data from its Street View mapping cars.

The fine was criticised for being too lenient only a week after Google reported first-quarter revenue of $8.14 billion.

A few days later, a bipartisan group of members of the U.S. House of Representatives wrote to the FTC demanding an investigation into Google's activity. It added a stern reminder after the Google Buzz privacy controversy last year of Google's promise to abide by the terms in which it settled, where by Google's privacy policies would be audited for the next 20 years.

The FTC can impose heavy fines of up to $16,000 a day per violation, with a final charge set to be issued by mid-May.

Google has faced a series of probes and investigations on both sides of the Atlantic over its privacy policies. Both U.S. and European authorities continue to investigate whether Google's consolidated privacy policy breaks data protection and privacy laws.

A Google spokesperson was unavailable at the time of writing.

Related:

Topics: Google, Apple, Legal, Operating Systems, Security

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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