The Two-Way
3:21 pm
Tue July 10, 2012

Reports: Google, FTC Will Settle Over Safari Privacy Breach

According to several news report, Google and the Federal Trade Commission are close to reaching an agreement over charges of a privacy breach.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the tentative deal would have Google pay $22.5 million over charges that it bypassed the privacy settings of users of Apple's Safari web browser.

The Journal reports:

"While the fine likely will represent only a tiny portion of Google's revenues—last year, the Internet giant raked in that much cash roughly every five hours or so—it counts among a series of negative reports about Google's privacy practices that could undermine users' trust in its services.

"The current charges involve Google's use of special computer code to trick Apple's Safari Web-browsing software into letting it monitor users that had blocked such tracking. Google disabled the code after being contacted by the Journal, which wrote about Google's practices in February."

The AP confirmed the news with a "person familiar with Google Inc.'s negotiations."

Essentially, the FTC was looking into whether the company violated its agreement of misleading customers.

Here's how ARS Technica explains what Google was allegedly doing:

"Safari's DNT typically blocks third-party cookies in order to keep users from being tracked by the cookie owners. Google got around this by using an exploit in Safari that allowed a cookie to be written with a blank form submitted while a webpage loads (part of the code Google uses to place its +1 button in advertisements). Google claimed that the circumvention wasn't intentional, and that it only happened for users who were signed in to their Google accounts and opted in to personalized ads. Google's exploit of Safari's flaw was not discovered until February 2012."

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