In yet another legal battle (will they ever really end?), The Wall Street Journal reports that Google is expected to pay an estimated $22.25 million fine for bypassing the privacy settings of millions of Apple users. This is the largest fine in the history of the Federal Trade Commission, and it’s the steepest fine ever charged to a single company.
Google has been charged by the FTC for tricking the Safari browser into accepting an advertising ‘cookie’ file that allowed the company to track users’ online activities even if the user had blocked any such tracking.While the fine itself is only a small amount of Google’s revenue, the fine and negative reports call into question Google’s privacy practices, which could seriously undermine users’ trust in Google’s services.
Google has since removed the codes and has said that tracking Safari users was inadvertent and users were not harmed. The FTC, however, still believes Google’s guilty of breaking a 20-year deal that was signed last October in which Google agreed to not misrepresent its privacy practices to consumers. Google and the FTC agreed to a $16,000 fine per violation, per day.
Google was previously charged by the FTC when it launched its Buzz social network, which reportedly used deceptive tactics. This led to Google signing the consent decree where the company agreed to a number of privacy protecting measures.
The FTC and Google have reportedly reached a proposed settlement and agreed on the $22.25 million fine, which is waiting for approval by the FTC commissioners.
News of Google’s privacy violations first surfaced in May, when the FTC was looking at fining the Internet company tens of millions of dollars.