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Judge Approves FTCs $22.5 Million FTC Fine for Google

By - Source: Associated Press | B 15 comments

Federal judge signs off on FTC's biggest fine ever.

Back in August, Google and the FTC agreed on a settlement regarding claims that the search giant had bypassed Safari's security settings to track users. This week, a U.S. judge approved the settlement. The Associated Press writes that  U.S. District Judge Susan Illston approved the on Friday evening.

Back in February, the Wall Street Journal reported that Google and other ad networks were taking advantage of a certain exception within the Safari browser. You see, Apple's Safari is set to block third-party cookies by default, accepting cookies only from sites that a user visits or interacts with. The exception to this rule allows cookies if you interact with a form or advertisement in certain ways. The Journal reported that Google and other ad networks took advantage of this exception by using an invisible form and its +1 Google+ recommendation system. Essentially, Google allowed Safari users who had signed into Google+ to interact with DoubleClick ads using an embedded '+1' button. This would then send off an invisible form that would have Safari think the user had provided permission for cookies to be stored.

At the time, Google said it used the workaround to enable signed-in G+ users the ability to +1 content around the web but was unaware it inadvertently enabled the advertising cookies. However, the FTC worried that Google was violating a previous privacy agreement and launched an investigation into the issue. The FTC this week said that that Google's misrepresentations violated an October 2011 settlement that barred Google from misrepresenting the extent to which consumers can exercise control over the collection of their information.

The fine is the largest the FTC has ever dished out and though $22.5 million isn't exactly pocket change, it's not exactly going to hurt Google either. The AP cites Consumer Watchdog in reporting that Google earns $22.5 million every four hours. In fact, because of the number of people affected, Consumer Watchdog attorney Gary Reback said the search giant should be fined $3 billion for its actions. Despite Consumer Watchdog's disappointment with the fine, the FTC is happy with the settlement. The Commission feels the settlement "sufficiently protects consumers from ongoing harm without exposing them to additional risks." Google maintains it didn't bypass Safari's settings on purpose.

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Top Comments
  • 17 Hide
    xpeh , November 20, 2012 1:10 PM
    Sounds like Safari is just insecure
Other Comments
  • 17 Hide
    xpeh , November 20, 2012 1:10 PM
    Sounds like Safari is just insecure
  • -4 Hide
    antilycus , November 20, 2012 1:20 PM
    just change the host file to 127.0.0.1 ads,doubleclick.net
  • 8 Hide
    djcreeble , November 20, 2012 1:22 PM
    Quote:
    Sounds like Safari is just insecure


    This.
  • -6 Hide
    drwho1 , November 20, 2012 2:22 PM
    I like to know what's the Judge's cut on this ridiculous fine.
  • 0 Hide
    SneakySnake , November 20, 2012 2:26 PM
    Only the tom's comments can make an article about how google purposely bypasses user privacy in order to snoop some info, and then gets caught for it, somehow a bad thing on apple.

    I guess if apple setup any sort of tweak to mislead google, then that would be google's fault
  • 4 Hide
    bllue , November 20, 2012 3:15 PM
    Should've been a $2.25 billion fine instead. Companies need to be reminded of their boundaries
  • 3 Hide
    murzar , November 20, 2012 3:39 PM
    'Don't be evil' Google.
  • 2 Hide
    d31m05 , November 20, 2012 3:49 PM
    xpehSounds like Safari is just insecure


    Macfag's mimimimimi in 3, 2, 1...
  • 2 Hide
    -Jackson , November 20, 2012 4:02 PM
    Chump change.. As per usual.
    Nothing new to see here.
  • 0 Hide
    jhansonxi , November 20, 2012 5:02 PM
    kathylillymy co-worker's half-sister earned $14989 the previous month. she makes money on the internet and moved in a $428400 house. All she did was get lucky and try the tips uncovered on this web site== BIT40.COM ==

    First spam report on kathylilly!
  • 0 Hide
    robochump , November 20, 2012 7:39 PM
    SneakySnakeOnly the tom's comments can make an article about how google purposely bypasses user privacy in order to snoop some info, and then gets caught for it, somehow a bad thing on apple.I guess if apple setup any sort of tweak to mislead google, then that would be google's fault


    iHaters can resist posting on Apple related articles. Anyways consumers should ALWAYS have the choice to be tracked or not.
  • 1 Hide
    jaquith , November 20, 2012 8:59 PM
    Right off the bat I don't give a rip about Safari, so my comments are aimed solely on Google's practices.
    Quote:
    Consumer Watchdog attorney Gary Reback said the search giant should be fined $3 billion for its actions.

    I agree and the only way to make Google or others think twice is to 'leave a mark.'
    Quote:
    The FTC this week said that that Google's misrepresentations violated an October 2011 settlement that barred Google from misrepresenting the extent to which consumers can exercise control over the collection of their information.

    And you think this is just Safari, OMG Chrome super snoops on every single thing you do regardless of privacy settings. Just Google search 'anything' then copy/paste the link in notepad, not to mention the JAVA and cookie control in any browser.
    Quote:
    Google maintains it didn't bypass Safari's settings on purpose.

    Cough...Mega B.S. I write code and if you don't think Google deliberately abated security by their own code by design then you're kidding yourself.

    Chances are, <0.01%, you pay Google nothing, but for folks like me that 'do' their prices are astronomical and the less competition there is the more they (Google) can get away with charging us the (Client).

    So 'How does that affect You' -- simple, as ad costs go up so does the costs of goods and services and they're passed right back to You (the Product). 'You' are being feed the equivalent of 'crack' so you continue to use your beloved Google; nothing is for free.

    Google's big challenge is their up and coming Anti-Trust suit, and it will be interesting how that pans out.
  • 0 Hide
    f-14 , November 20, 2012 10:23 PM
    hope this same judge fines rupert murdoch for trying to run an illegal monopoly in chicago and los angels by owning 3 tv stations and buying the chicago tribune and the la times.

    Quote:
    http://act.freepress.net/sign/murdoch_powergrab/?akid=3930.9603307.aNFVyD&rd=1&t=2

    Rupert Murdoch — the guy who’s under investigation in England for phone hacking, influence peddling and bribery — wants to get his mitts on the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune1,2. These are the major papers in the nation's second- and third-largest cities (where, incidentally, Murdoch already owns TV stations).

    Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski is trying to change the agency’s ownership rules to pave the way for Murdoch to get exactly what he wants. Worse, Genachowski and Murdoch are keeping this all very hush-hush, hoping you won't notice.3

    These changes wouldn’t just benefit Murdoch. If the FCC proposal passes, one company could own the major daily newspaper, two TV stations and up to eight radio stations in your town. And that one company could be your Internet provider, too. What is the FCC thinking?!?

    1. “Murdoch Eyes L.A. Times, Chicago Tribune,” Chicago Tribune, Oct. 20, 2012: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-10-20/business/sns-rt-us-newscorp-tribune-labre89j0fm-20121020_1_murdoch-controls-news-corp-chairman-ceo-rupert-murdoch

    2. “News Corp.'s Rupert Murdoch Is Said to Be in Early Talks to Buy the L.A. Times and the Chicago Tribune from Tribune Co,” Los Angeles Times, Oct. 19, 2012: http://articles.latimes.com/2012/oct/19/business/la-fi-ct-murdoch-newspapers-20121020

    3. “FCC Proposes Loosening TV/Newspaper Cross-Ownership Ban ... Again,” Nov. 14, 2012: http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/490405-FCC_Proposes_Loosening_TV_Newspaper_Cross_Ownership_Ban_Again.php
  • 0 Hide
    davewolfgang , November 21, 2012 12:40 PM
    This is the same as G00GLE "not knowing" they were scanning for, tracking, and SAVING DATA TO A HARD DRIVE for wifi spots from their street view vehicles....right?
  • 0 Hide
    toiletmaster , November 26, 2012 1:35 AM
    Google intentionally track users and intentionally share the tracking data with 3rd parties. But I personally believe that they really have no intention to harm the end users.

    And to those who think safari is simply insecure, based on what I think how the code is written, I believe this "tactic" can be easily applied to any browsers anywhere, ie. Internet explorer, Firefox...