Judge approves $22.5m Google-FTC settlement, rebuffs consumer group

Judge approves $22.5m Google-FTC settlement, rebuffs consumer group

Summary: A US judge has rebuffed efforts by California-based Consumer Watchdog to derail Google's settlement with the FTC regarding the bypassing of Safari privacy settings.. The group wanted a harsher penalty, and is now urging a full FTC suit over Google's search practices.

TOPICS: Privacy, Google

A US judge has spurned a consumer rights group's call for Google to have to pay more than $22.5m in settlement over its Safari privacy row, by approving the original figure set by the Federal Trade Commission.

The $22.5m (£14.1m) fine was a record for the FTC when it established the size of the settlement in August. However, California-based Consumer Watchdog, which felt Google should face tougher penalties over its actions, was allowed to oppose the sum later that month.

According to an AP report, San Francisco district judge Susan Illston ruled late on Friday that the $22.5m figure would stand, and Google responded by saying it was "glad the court agreed there was no merit to this challenge".

Earlier this year, it emerged that Google had been bypassing the privacy settings in Apple's browser, Safari, so that its sites could continue tracking Safari users even when their settings supposedly blocked this activity.

This was a particularly big problem because of a previous Google settlement with the FTC in 2011, in the wake of the Buzz debacle. That settlement had seen Google promise to be clear about its tracking operations.

Under the new settlement, Google gets to walk away without having officially been found to have done anything wrong.

Consumer Watchdog is now trying to get the FTC to properly take Google to court over its search business practices, rather than settling again. This would be a similar case to that being decided by EU authorities, with Microsoft and others having accused Google of downranking their services in its search results.

The Californian group wrote to FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz on Thursday, calling for Google to be broken up "so there is no incentive to unfairly use search to promote other services".

Topics: Privacy, Google

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Please, stop this madness!

    BREAK GOOGLE UP!??? completely nuts. out of their mind. anti consumer group, i would say.
    other *
    • I don't know

      If google was half way honest about anything these days I might feel otherwise.
      As it stands, they lied about what they would collect with their cars, snooping on non-customers too and violating privacy and trust. They hacked Microsoft and Apple user's computers to track their web surfing anyway, although people had tracking cookies turned off. They deceptively run an "open source" project but control the lead teams and scope with an iron fist, keeping core functionality out of the base so it requires their final spyware/stalkware for full functionality.
      They claim android is open but used behind the scenes thuggery to stop Motorola from using skyhook instead of their stalkware, showing they manipulated the system so they really do review and approve device code, but weasels their words when it came to CarrierIQ.


      They have blatantly defied EU privacy laws for how many years, since they refuse to disclose the actual details of what they c
      collect and what they actually do with it and who they sell what. Read their vague terms of service and I'm sure it doesn't mention they really want to track all your activity even if you set your settings to privacy. Their idea of privacy is collecting your info anyway and giving you random ads.

      Add to that they distort the market giving away free and "at cost" goodies designed to track and stalk you, making billions from your info, and are so big they decide what laws and settings aren't up to "the advertising industry's standards" so they just violate and bypass, and they hand it all over to a government known to abuse the bypass of due process again and again.

      Maybe not break them up, but they need a leash of some sort then.
  • Would it be too soon to see where the primary of this group

    has his/her money invested? And a "California" watchdog group going after an Apple Application violation with so much vigor? Never seen them go after anything with Microsoft so hard.
    Makes on wonder if maybe we have a secret group of Apple fanboi's trying to get Google before Android makes a bigger inroad over Apple?
  • Conspiracy!!!

    @Putertechn, use of the term "fanboi" shows you don't have many original thoughts, but I don't think you realize how idiotic you sound in your comment. I mean, it's embarrassing to even read it. Like looking at the drivel that other dudes write in on line dating profiles to impress the ladies.