Google's tricky bypassing of Safari's security settings is set to earn the company the largest-ever fine levied on a company by the US Federal Trade Commission, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
Browsers such as Safari often let their users block third-party cookies from tracking them around the web. Google used special code to trick Safari into accepting its advertising cookies even when users had chosen to block them, and this now-ceased practice is apparently about to lead to a $22.5m (£14.5m) settlement with the FTC.
The WSJ based its Monday story on unnamed "officials briefed on the settlement terms".
The fine itself results from the fact that — just months before it was caught out sneaking its cookies past browsers' security settings — Google had signed a 20-year decree with the FTC pledging to be honest and open about its privacy practices. That agreement followed the scandal over Google Buzz, which broadcast some users' private information without them realising it.
Safari users weren't the only ones to have their privacy preferences ignored by Google's cookies. The same happened to Internet Explorer (IE) users, although, when that came out, Google claimed that it was Microsoft's fault for using out-of-date security mechanisms.
Google has said that the relevant advertising cookies do not collect personal information.