Last year, Google was handed the largest fine for a single company in FTC history when it was penalized to the tune of $22.5 million in relation to the tracking of Safari users. Critics felt the fine didn’t go far enough, but a federal judge disagreed last November, ruling that the settlement was “fair, adequate and reasonable.”
Google had been accused of placing cookies on Safari-users’ devices when they visited sites in the DoubleClick network back in 2011 and early 2012. Google maintained that it collected no personal data.
Today, Google settled with 37 states and the District of Columbia for $17 million over what came to be known as “Safari-gate”.
A Google spokesperson is quoted as saying, “We work hard to get privacy right at Google and have taken steps to remove the ad cookies, which collected no personal information, from Apple’s browsers. We’re pleased to have worked with the state attorneys general to reach this agreement.”
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said, “Consumers should be able to know whether there are other eyes surfing the web with them. By tracking millions of people without their knowledge, Google violated not only their privacy, but also their trust. We must give consumers the reassurance that they can browse the Internet safely and securely. My office will continue to protect New Yorkers from any attempts to deliberately expose their personal data.”
His state gets $899,580 of the $17 million.
According to the AG, Google has agreed to the following:
- Not deploy the type of code used in this case to override a browser’s cookie blocking settings without the consumer’s consent unless it is necessary to do so in order to detect, prevent or otherwise address fraud, security or technical issues.
- Not misrepresent or omit material information to consumers about how they can use any particular Google product, service, or tool to directly manage how Google serves advertisements to their browsers.
- Improve the information it gives consumers regarding cookies, their purpose, and how the cookies are managed by consumers using Google’s products or services and tools.
- Maintain systems designed to ensure the expiration of the third-party cookies set on Safari Web browsers while their default settings had been circumvented.
You can read the settlement here.