Safari User Sues Google Over Privacy Snafu

    February 19, 2012
    Zach Walton
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We previously reported that Google has hit a bit of rough spot due to allegations that the search giant exploited a loophole in Apple’s Safari browser to track users. It seems that Safari users want to get in on the “shame on you, Google” party.

Bloomberg is reporting that Matthew Soble, a Safari user from Illinois, is suing Google over a breach of his privacy. The lawsuit says that Google’s “willful and knowing actions” violated federal wiretapping laws and other computer-related laws.

For those not in the loop as to the current situation, a report surfaced from Stanford researcher Jonathan Mayer that said Google had allegedly used an exploit in the Safari browser to track users and their browsing history. Safari blocks third-party cookies by default, including Google’s. Rachel Whetstone, Senior VP of Communications and Publicy Policy for Google, said in a statement to WebProNews Friday that the search giant had used “known Safari functionality” to enable features that Google account holders regularly use like the ability to “+1″ Web sites and content.

Google claims that the software they used was completely anonymous and did not collect any personal information on Safari users. The company then said that unknown Safari functionality was allowing other Google ad cookies to be installed on the browser. In response, the company began to remove the offending cookies from Safari users’ browsers.

Even though Google seems innocent in this case, that hasn’t stopped various watchdog groups from attacking the search engine for breaches of privacy. The Consumer Watchdog has filed a complaint with the FTC over what they perceive as a violation of users’ privacy.

It remains to be seen if Soble will turn his lawsuit into a class action suit against the search engine giant, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns into that.

We’ll keep you updated on any developments as they occur.

  • Anne

    I think this is just the tip of the iceberg with Google. Add to the Safari situation the fact that Google is also in a big hurry to push through their new privacy policy on March 1st. The new policy will require users of ANY Google product to agree to a one time across-all-Google-products policy in order to use even one of their products (Gmail, YouTube, etc.)

    A Petition has been started on Change.org http://chn.ge/x6A8ca requesting that Google delay their March 1st date of implementation in order to institute a fair and fully informed opt-in process to get users permission to track, store, combine and protect all data generated by each user of your services.

    Google is currently under the looking glass for so privacy concerns it makes your head spin. Just Google “google privacy policy” and look at all the results! You’d think that more people than the 3700 who’ve signed the petition would be getting informed and wanting their voice heard.