FTC, Google Settle Privacy Probe


The Federal Trade Commission said this morning that Google has agreed to pay $22.5 million to settle charges that it circumvented Apple users' privacy settings.

The enforcement action stems from a report by Stanford grad student Jonathan Mayer outlining how Google, PointRoll, the WPP's Media Innovation Group and Vibrant Media circumvented the Safari browser's no-tracking settings.

Google, Vibrant Media and PointRoll confirmed Mayer's report, and said they had stopped tracking Safari users or would soon do so. WPP hasn't yet commented.

Google also said it developed its workaround in order to enable Safari users to like ads with the +1 button, and not track them throughout the Web. But once the workaround was in place, Google's DoubleClick also was able to track people for advertising purposes.

Google specifically instructed users that the Safari browser would block tracking cookies. With that statement, the search giant allegedly violated a 2011 consent decree prohibiting the company from misrepresenting its privacy practices.

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