Google hit with $22.5 million fine for security violations

/ 4 years ago

America’s Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued its largest fine ever, to Google, for an FTC violation. Google has agreed to pay a $22.5 million fine over acccusations that they placed tracking cookies on the computers of Safari browser users that visited Google advertising partner websites for several months in 2011 and 2012.

The problem arises from the fact Google told Safari users they would automatically be excluded from such tracking because Safari’s default settings supposedly prohibited it on Macs, iPhones and iPads. Thus Safari users believed they had automatically been opted out of cookie tracking, yet they hadn’t.

The commission ultimately determined that by doing this, the search giant had violated an October 2011 settlement which banned them from misrepresenting the extent to which consumers can control the collection of their information.

“The record setting penalty in this matter sends a clear message to all companies under an FTC privacy order,” said Jon Leibowitz, Chairman of the FTC. “No matter how big or small, all companies must abide by FTC orders against them and keep their privacy promises to consumers, or they will end up paying many times what it would have cost to comply in the first place.”

Google now has the job of removing these Ad cookies in compliance with FTC regulations. $22.5 million may seem like a lot, but for a company who posted a $2.8 billion profit in the last quarter that ended June 30, we don’t expect they will be too unhappy.