Judge Approves Record $22.5M FTC Fine Penalizing Google For Tracking Safari Users

By Alexandra Burlacu | Nov 18, 2012 01:01 PM EST

Share This Story

  • Print
  • Email

A U.S. federal judge has approved a $22.5 million Federal Trade Commission (FTC) fine to penalize Google for an alleged privacy breach.

The approval from U.S. District Judge Susan Illston came late Friday, Nov. 16, rejecting a consumer-rights group's plea for a tougher punishment. Illston issued her ruling just a few hours after a hearing in San Francisco, which focused on a fine representing the agreement Google reached months ago with the FTC.

Follow us

The privacy case revolves around allegations that the search giant fooled millions of Web surfers using Apple's Safari web browser into believing their online activities could not be tracked by Google provided they did not change the browser's privacy settings. Although that assurance was even posted on Google's Web site earlier this year, Google was inserting computer coding designed to bypass Safari's automatic settings. The coding enabled Google to peer into the online activities of Safari users, regardless of their browser settings.

According to the FTC, the stark contradiction between Google's stealth tracking and its false privacy assurances to Safari users broke a vow the company had made in another settlement with the FTC last year. Google had pledged not to mislead people regarding its privacy practices.

The FTC praised its actions as proof of its efforts to protect the public interest. A consumer rights group, however, attacked the settlement arguing that in fact it represents ineffectual regulation. As the FTC is wrapping up a separate investigation into complaints that Google has been hurting competition and raising online ad prices by emphasizing its own services in its leading search engine, the consumer rights group is trying to raise more awareness about the Google - Safari Web browser issue.

Judge Illston, meanwhile, found that the fine, as well as other facets of the settlement, were all "fair, adequate and reasonable."

"We're glad the court agreed there was no merit to this challenge," the search giant said in a statement following the ruling, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Consumer Watchdog, however, is not ready to let things go just yet. Gary Reback, an attorney for the consumer rights group, said he is hoping to pressure the FCT to take Google to court in the antitrust investigation rather than negotiating new consent decrees and reaching other types of settlements, as it did in dealing with the Safari privacy issue.

A consent decree "is not a good way to police Google," Reback told MercuryNews in an interview on Friday, after the court hearing. Some of the Internet companies that have filed complaints against the search giant in the antitrust case have also hired Reback as their attorney.

According to FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, regulators should decide whether to sue, settle, or simply close the antitrust probe into Google's practices by the end of the year.  


Get the Most Popular Mobile&Apps Stories in a Weekly Newsletter

Join Our Conversation

The HTC logo is seen with different devices from the brand HTC M10 Perfume Launching A Month Later After MWC 2016
Lava Unleashes New P7 Device Into The Indian Market
New Disney Phone Coming To Japan
Xiaomi Locks Redmi Note 3, Mi 4c And Mi Note Pro; Others To Follow Suit?
Tablet / Laptop / PC
Dell Venue 7 and Venue 8 Dell unveils Venue 7 and Venue 8 Android 4.3 Jelly Bean tablets
Retina iPad Mini facing delays, may not launch until early next year
Refurbished 128GB iPad with Retina Display now available on the Apple Online Store
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 – 2014 Edition: Pricing and availability now official
Amazon Logo Amazon reportedly to launch ‘Firetube’ set-top box before 2013 holidays
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Gear India launch: Pricing and availability
Samsung Galaxy Gear Android smartwatch now up for pre-order in Canada
Samsung Galaxy Gear 2 reportedly in the works already, may debut at CES or MWC 2014
OS / Software
HTC Logo HTC reportedly considering Android/Windows Phone dual-booting smartphone as Microsoft pushes for deeper Windows mobile integration
iOS 7 Chrome Incognito mode leaks private searches due to bug
Sprint HTC One Android 4.3 Jelly Bean already rolling out, AT&T, T-Mobile & Verizon to follow
Microsoft Windows 8.1 now available for pre-order
Internet / Social Media
Google Downtime Google blacks out for two minutes, causes 40 percent drop in world’s Internet traffic
Xbox Music web player is live and ready for Xbox Music Pass subscribers
Facebook Android app collected phone numbers even if users never logged in
Firefox 22 brings support for web video calls, 3D gaming, and Unreal Engine 3
What's App
ZTE's new lease program ZTE’s new Lease-to-own Program for Mobile Devices
LG’s G Pay to Take on Google, Samsung and Apple
Facebook: Taxes in the UK and a new Shopping tab
Samsung’s VR Headset to be Released at $99, Hulu Jumps Onboard with Apps Ready

Most Popular

© 2016 IBT Media Inc. All Rights Reserved.mobilenapps