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Google faces another privacy probe

Updated Safari hunt back on
Fri Mar 16 2012, 12:37

INTERNET SERVICES FIRM Google will be facing more questions over the bug that meant it was tracking Apple Safari users without their permission.

Last month the company was found to have a coding error that meant that even if Safari web browser users attempted to limit the amount of data they shared with web sites, Google ignored them.

The firm quickly moved to fix the problem, but by then the scandal had taken off and groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation were loudly complaining about the privacy implicatiions.

Today the Wall Street Journal reports that regulators in the US and Europe are preparing a deeper look at the situation and will investigate what if anything Google has done wrong.

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will take up the charge in the US, while European Competition regulators will handle the investigation overseas, reports the WSJ. We have asked Google to comment and the FTC to confirm the report.

The French data protection authority CNIL will lead the investigation in Europe. The CNIL has already danced with Google and heavily criticised it over the changes it made to its privacy policies and Streetview data collection mistake.

Google responded to our request for comment and again stressed that this was an innocent mistake.

"We used known Safari functionality to provide features that signed-in Google users had enabled. We created a temporary communication link between Safari browsers and Google's servers, so that we could ascertain whether Safari users were also signed into Google, and had opted for personalized ads and other content," said a spokesperson.

"However, the Safari browser contained functionality that then enabled other Google advertising cookies to be set on the browser."

The firm did not confirm the new investigation, but said that it would work with any officials that came its way.

"We will of course cooperate with any officials who have questions. But it's important to remember that we didn't anticipate this would happen, and we have been removing these advertising cookies from Safari browsers," added the spokesperson. µ



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