Google will soon be paying $22.5 million as part of a fine imposed by the Federal Trade Commission. Google bypassed the security settings on Apple’s Safari browser to place third-party tracking cookies there. The Wall Street Journal reports that this settlement will be the “largest penalty ever levied” against one company. But the fine represents a tiny portion of Google’s revenues. You may remember that Google had to pay $500 million to settle Justice Department allegations that the search engine company accepted ads for illegal sales of generic drugs. Google’s Safari security bypass was discovered by Stanford graduate student Jonathan Mayer, who published research showing how Google loopholes around the Safari browser.
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Earlier this month, I wrote about how Internet Explorer would have the “do not track” feature on by default. The Digital Advertising Alliance was not happy with this decision because they had struck a deal with the White House to honor the “do not track” feature as long as it was not a default setting on browsers. Since Microsoft pushed ahead and decided to make it default on IE 10 any way, the advertisers decided that they would have no choice but to ignore those preferences. The EFF, Mozilla, and Jonathan Mayer of Stanford authored a document that has a specific provision that requires users to provide explicit consent before any tracking preferences can be transmitted to make sure that “do not track” gets derailed altogether.