Google may have to face the music for a little stunt they pulled with Mobile Safari in which they hacked the cookie functionality to allow access to users’ web history and possibly personal information (Google doesn’t deny the former, but they do deny the latter). The FTC is now looking at laying a fine that could total tens of millions for violation of privacy, and it would be the first such fine they’ve laid for this particular sort of infraction.
[quote]The FTC is preparing to allege that Mountain View, California-based Google deceived consumers and violated terms of a consent decree signed with the commission last year when it planted so-called cookies on Safari, bypassing Apple software’s privacy settings, the person said.[/quote]
There’s precious little on this story at the moment, but Bloomberg says FTC spokeswoman Claudia Bourne Farrell declined to comment, and Google spokesman Chris Gaither did as well.
It’s not so critically important that Google has to go stand in the corner. Merely being discovered to be doing something wrong is no deterrent for corporations, and it’s asking too much in this day and age to expect them to do the right thing purely for the purpose of being fair and just. It’s not enough to give Google a fine that they would never notice and would recoup within minutes any more than you would sue someone for the change they find under their sofa cushions. Google (and Facebook and Apple and Microsoft and any other corporation that does not take privacy seriously or acts in a subversive manner) should be fined a huge amount that will bruise their bankbooks. This is the only way corporations will learn where the limits are, and it’s the only way we’ll see disrespect of personal privacy come to an end.