In February, it was revealed that Google was bypassing Safari web browser’s privacy settings and was tracking users without their consent. Google quickly disabled its code responsible for the tracking and Apple then claimed it was “working to put a stop” to the issue. Now, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is preparing to fine Google for its activities and efforts to circumvent privacy restrictions in Apple’s Safari web browser to stop user tracking through ads on numerous sites across the web.
As Google, alleged for the breach of Apple’s Safari web browser settings without user consent, is negotiating with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission about the amount of fine. The final amount may reach over $10 million. The fine would be for a violation of Internet privacy by the FTC as the agency steps up enforcement of consumers’ online rights.
Apple said Google has deceived its consumers and violated terms of a consent decree signed with the commission last year when it planted cookies on Safari web browsers, bypassing Apple software’s privacy settings. To be noted, the cookies allowed Google to bypass Safari’s built-in privacy protections. Google took advantage of a loophole in Safari’s default privacy settings, making the browser think that the user was interacting with a given ad, thus allowing a tracking cookie to be installed. With that cookie installed, it became easy for Google to add additional cookies and to track users across the web as they visited other sites displaying ads from Google’s networks. However, Google claimed that it “didn’t anticipate this would happen” at that time, and that it was removing the files since discovering the slip.
“We will of course co-operate with any officials who have questions,” Chris Gaither, a Google spokesman, said in an e- mail, declining to comment further.
Besides Safari, Microsoft has also alleged that Google used a similarly invasive cookie on Microsoft’s web browser Internet Explorer. The Safari breach was first identified by Stanford researcher Jonathan Mayer. However, on this gravy situation, an FTC spokeswoman, Claudia Bourne Farrell, declined to comment on Bloomberg’s report.
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