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Remember when Google was busted back in February for secretly circumventing privacy settings that Apple put into its web browser, Safari?Looks like the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has decided to fine Google for it, reports Reuters. And the fine could be more than $10 million dollars.
The FTC is coming after Google for tricking consumers and violating “terms of a consent decree signed with the commission last year,” says Reuters.
By default, Apple doesn’t let third-parties drop “tracking cookies” onto Safari. Cookies are used by web sites to help that website remember stuff about you. You can give Safari permission to use them, without changing the default privacy settings. For instance, if you use Safari to sign into Facebook and tell your browser to let you stay signed in, Safari will let Facebook drop a cookie onto your computer so Facebook can remember you.
But it doesn’t let others — such as advertisers — drop cookies on your computer so that they can track your activities and decide what ads to show you.
Google developed a workaround to dropping ad-tracking cookies on Safari users, which is exactly the sort of thing that Apple was trying to prevent. It then secretly used this workaround to gather data on Safari users to help its own advertising and social-networking goals.
We’ll see how big a fine the FTC actually imposes. Google has become pretty good at negotiating fines. Earlier this month, the FCC fined Google $25,000 for allegedly delaying an investigation about if Street View cars were collecting personal information from Wi-Fi networks. The FCC then cleared Google of doing anything illegal.
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