Google 'negotiating FTC fine' after bypassing Safari privacy settings

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.

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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.

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

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10 comments
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  • Fine them 2 billion

    Fine them atleast 10% of their turnover so that it hurts. That will put a stop to all their 'evil' deeds.
    owllnet
  • just some government bureaucrats

    shaking down google to plug the deficit holes in Obama's budget.
    FTC and it's instigators from apple should be ashame of themselves!
    The Linux Geek
    • I was curious

      as to what excuse you would come up with. This is not about some government plot to get money but about punishing Google for hacking into a competitor's product. Fact of the matter is your precious [i]Google[/i] hacked Safari. They were found guilty and should pay the price. End of story.
      NonFanboy
  • How much

    Do you wanna bet, they're playing the part of a two year old, saying "I'll never do it again, I swear! We don't do evil!", while their techs are backstage breaking into other systems.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
  • Google 'negotiating FTC fine' after bypassing Safari privacy settings

    Fine them big so they will stop their madness.
    Loverock Davidson-
  • Safari fail.

    What good are "privacy" settings that are so trivially circumvented?
    spatula6
    • The real question is...

      If Google is so ready and willing to circumvent privacy settings intended to protect the consumer, should the consumer entrust them with his/her web searching, document creation, document storage, e-mail, voice, etc.?

      Apple's certainly not free from blame here, but if anybody's buying Google's "we did it to improve our service to our customers" explanation, they seriously need to have their heads checked.
      TroyMcClure
    • Google fail.

      It's not that the privacy settings were so trivially circumvented - although that is an issue Apple does need to deal with - but the fact that Google was caught hacking into a competitor's product.
      NonFanboy
  • And the other companies who did this?

    According to the original WSJ article, there three other companies who did this: Vibrant Media Inc., PLC's Media Innovation Group LLC and Gannett Co.'s PointRoll Inc. Do they get similar fines also?

    Additionally, the fact that Google's own engineers submitted fixes to prevent this kind of behavior well before the WSJ article should also mitigate any fine.
    dspake@...
    • I should hope so

      Google is not the only party involved so they should have to share the punishment with the other companies involved. And the fact that Google engineers submitted fixes does not in any way mitigate the fact that they still hacked into Safari.
      NonFanboy