Google may face massive fine from FTC for bypassing Safari privacy controls
Google is said to be in the process of negotiating a fine with the Federal Trade Commission for circumventing Safari’s privacy settings, according to Bloomberg. Citing an unnamed “person familiar with the matter,” Bloomberg says Google faces being fined up to $10 million once the FTC files formal charges against the company, though unsurprisingly, neither Google nor the FTC has publicly commented.
Google was found to be working its way around Safari’s tool that allows users to block third-party cookies earlier this year in order to, well, “track” users with cookies. (The code used by Google was part of its program to place the “+1″ button in advertisements.) At the time, the company issued a statement saying that the circumvention wasn’t intentional, but privacy groups were still quick to file complaints with the FTC over Google’s actions. That was quickly followed by a class-action lawsuit and an investigation by European regulators.
According to Bloomberg’s source, the FTC plans to charge Google with violating its consent decree with the US government that came out of the Google Buzz settlement. The company had agreed not to mislead users about its privacy policies or what it’s doing with user data, and critics were quick to point out that circumventing a browser’s privacy controls seem to fall under that umbrella. No expected timeframe was given for when the FTC will officially charge Google.