Google Is Going To Pay $17M Fine For Tracking Safari Users

Posted Nov 18, 2013

Google will be paying a $17 million fine to settle charges for secretly tracking consumers on the web even after agreeing to blocking the tracking measures, according to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.  In 28 states, Google was accused of violating state consumer protection laws and computer privacy laws by not telling users that they were being tracked in the Apple Safari browser when they bypassed privacy settings to show them targeted advertisements.

“Consumers should be able to know whether there are other eyes surfing the web with them,? stated Schneiderman. ?By tracking millions of people without their knowledge, Google violated not only their privacy, but also their trust.?

Google delivers targeted ads by using cookies.  These cookies are small files that are place in web browsers for tracking a users’s online habits.  Google said that Safari’s privacy settings could prevent them from tracking the cookies.  Google got around these settings by exploiting a loophole in the Safari browser and then track the users with the DoubleClick ad network.

“We work hard to get privacy right at Google and have taken steps to remove the ad cookies, which collected no personal information, from Apple?s browsers,” said Google in a statement. “We’re pleased to have worked with the state attorneys general to reach this agreement.”

Last year, Google agreed to pay a $22.5 million fine for similar charges as part of a separate case filed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).  This was the largest settlement ever obtained by the FTC.  Google said that the tracking was an accident.