Safari User Sues Google Over Privacy Snafu

    February 19, 2012

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.