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Google set to pay record fine over Safari privacy breach

Snooping will cost the firm $22.5m
Tue Jul 10 2012, 09:50
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INTERNET SEARCH GIANT Google is set to pay a $22.5m fine in relation to the discovery that it bypassed the privacy settings in Apple's Safari web browser, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Citing officials "briefed on the settlement terms", the WSJ reports that Google is about to pay the biggest fine ever imposed by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), after it was found that the company used special code to get around Safari's built-in privacy controls, allowing it to track users' internet activity.

Although the issue has now been fixed, Google still denies snooping on users, saying its workaround was in place to make sure that people signed in with their Google accounts were seeing the appropriate personalised information.

The whopping $22.5m fine results from Google's 20 year agreement with the FTC, promising to be open and honest about its privacy practices.

Google, although unable to comment on the specifics of the investigation, said in a statement, "The FTC is focused on a 2009 help centre page published more than two years before our consent decree, and a year before Apple changed its cookie-handling policy.

"We have now changed that page and taken steps to remove the ad cookies, which collected no personal information, from Apple's browsers."

The FTC could not be reached for comment at the time of writing. µ


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