Google Fined $22.5 Million By FTC For Privacy-Violating Cookie Use

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Google has agreed to a record $22.5 million fine for invasion of privacy after being accused of deliberately circumventing the privacy of Safari browsers.

The Federal Trade Commission alleged that the search engine giant it violated a pledge to protect the privacy of its users who use Apple's browser.

The FTC is ramping up its efforts to protect the online privacy of consumers and said it levied the largest fine in its history to send a clear message.

Google Cookies

The FTC said the behavior violated terms of a settlement Google reached with the agency last year over its now-defunct Buzz social networking service.

In the settlement, the FTC ordered Google to disable all the tracking cookies, used to monitor user activity across the Internet, by next year.

Tracking cookies are snippets of computer code that collect data about how users browse and thus show them ads based on browsing history.

The FTC said that Google told Safari users that because the browser blocks third-party cookies, they did not need to opt out of online tracking.

Yet Google in fact placed a temporary cookie on computers, tablets, and mobile devices, as first reported by Stanford researcher Jonathan Mayer.

In reaching the settlement, Google did not admit liability, claiming that it had "collected no personal information from Apple's browsers."

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