Google pays $22.5 million to settle Apple Safari charges
By Jasmin Melvin
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Google Inc will pay $22.5 million to settle charges it bypassed the privacy settings of customers using Apple Inc's Safari browser, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission said on Thursday.
The deal ends an FTC probe into allegations that Google used computer code known as "cookies" to trick the Safari browser on iPhones and iPads so the Internet search company could monitor users who had blocked such tracking.
The practice was in violation of a 2011 consent decree Google had negotiated with the FTC over botched rollouts of the social network Buzz, which is now defunct.
Companies such as Google and Facebook Inc rely on collecting user data for a large part of their revenue, but lawmakers and privacy advocates have argued that tech companies are generally not doing enough to safeguard customer privacy.
Both Google, the world's No. 1 search engine, and Facebook, the No. 1 social networking site, last year agreed to 20 years of audits to ensure consumers' privacy after the FTC found they had engaged in deceptive privacy practices.
"No matter how big or small, all companies must abide by FTC orders against them and keep their privacy promises to consumers," FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said in a statement.
Google was not required to admit to any liability, and the settlement does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing.
It was the largest penalty ever placed on a company for violating an FTC order, yet the fine is a drop in the bucket compared to Google's second-quarter revenue of $12.21 billion. Continued...