A few days ago, we reported that it has been claimed that Google was using a clandestine piece of code to sneak through Safari’s privacy settings to keep tabs on the browsing information of Safari’s users. Now a Safari user has filed a case against Google over these allegations and is seeking a class-action status for his suit. The user, in his lawsuit, has alleged that Google violated the privacy settings of Safari knowingly and tracked the activities of users without their knowledge, let alone their permission.
The case has been filed by Matthew Soble in Delaware’s federal court. According to the complaint lodged by him, ‘Google’s willful and knowing actions violated federal wiretapping laws and other computer-related statutes.’
The fiasco started when a number of analysts affirmed that Google was using small bits of codes which could track user’s activities while browsing websites. Originally, Safari does not allow third-party cookies to be installed on the browser. When Google changed it’s privacy settings, it told Safari users that they didn’t need to tweak their settings since their browser ensured by default that third-party cookies not be allowed to track the websites they browse.
Google then ‘tricked’ Safari into believing that the user has willingly interacted with one of the ads, since that would be tantamount to a user’s permission to allow storage of third-party cookies on the browser. This was accomplished by sending an invisible form. In simple words, this made Safari believe that the user has interacted with an ad and has given his content whereas the user didn’t actually do so.
However, Google has categorically denied any and all such allegations and has clearly said in a statement, “The Journal mischaracterizes what happened and why. We used known Safari functionality to provide features that signed-in Google users had enabled. It’s important to stress that these advertising cookies do not collect personal information.”
But lawmakers and privacy rights groups are already on this case and are actively seeking a legal action against the search engine, and other such advertising companies too who circumvent browser settings to keep tabs on users.
Image courtesy aditza