Google to pay $22.5M fine in Safari privacy debacle settlement

Remember when Google was caught with its hands in the jar, overriding privacy settings of both desktop and iOS Safari users’ privacy settings in order to better track their web browsing activity? The issue snowballed into a privacy scandal as the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said in April it would investigate the practice. The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that the FTC and the search Goliath are now close to finalizing a settlement that will see Google pony up a whopping $22.5 million to settle the privacy issue, FTC’s largest ever fine…

Julia Angwin reports:

The fine is expected to be the largest penalty ever levied on a single company by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. It offers the latest sign of the FTC’s stepped-up approach to policing online privacy violations, coming just six months after The Wall Street Journal reported on Google’s practices.

The final sum still needs to be approved by FTC commissioners.

I think this just serves to highlight that while Google does run the best search engine there is, sometimes it does so by intruding users’ privacy as there’s no justification to circumvent my privacy preferences.

The sneaky cookie Google planted tracked users’ web browsing history even if when they specifically disabled tracking cookies, presumably to serve the most relevant adverts, so said Google.

This is far from a random hiccup because Google went to great lengths to tap a hole in the Safari browser to achieve this non-stop tracking.

It may not be a biggie as far as any individual user is concerned, but coming from a company that prides itself with doing no evil, I think the government did the right thing here.

Any company taking advantage of consumers, Apple included, should be called out.