After bypassing user privacy setting in Apple’s Safari web browser, Google has been ordered to pay $22.5 million by a U.S. District Judge.
This is one for the books – Google has been ordered to pay a $22.5 million fine, one of the largest penalties the FTC has ever levied against a single company. According to the Associated Press, U.S. District Judge Susan IIIston approved the fine in a San Francisco federal court, late Friday.
In the order, the Federal Trade Commission claims that Google illegally bypassed user privacy settings in Apple’s Safari Web Browser. A settlement agreement was reached in August between Google and the FTC when the search giant agreed to pay $22.5 million on charges that it “placed an advertising tracking cookie on the computers of Safari users who visited sites within Google’s DoubleClick advertising network.”
According to the Associated Press, during Friday’s proceedings, IIIston heard statements from the FTC, Google, and a consumer-rights group called ‘Consumer Watchdog’. The FTC claimed that Google assured users they would be automatically opted out of tracking, mainly because of Safari’s handling of third-party cookies. But, according to the FTC, those users were not opted out; therefore Google contradicted a 2011 privacy agreement it had made with the FTC.
Google has come out on the defensive saying it takes privacy very seriously and that sidestepping Safari’s default settings was not done intentionally. Google has now begun the removal process of the ads cookies.
The FTC seemed pleased with the ruling and the judge’s decision to approve the fine. However, Consumer Watchdog was very disappointed and said the ruling was ‘ineffectual’, and the financial penalty should have been considerably more. Even though $22.5 million is a lot of money, and may seem like a fair amount for a fine; during the quarter ending in October, Google generated $14 billion in revenue. It’s no wonder that Consumer Watchdog considers $22.5 million chump change.
However, it should be noted that Google’s little blunder with Safari only earned them about $4 million.