In what is considered the single largest penalty to be issued by the Federal Trade Commission, Google has agreed to settle on a $22.5 million payment after it was revealed that the search engine had utilized cookies on Apple’s Safari browser for monitoring purposes. Though users had the option to not let such cookies from being implemented, Google was still tracking the behaviors of users, though they claim that it was not intentional.
The users activity would be monitored in such a way to show advertisements meant to be tailored to their interests based on which websites that might have visited.
Such an action by Google is considered okay, as the Doubleclick Ad network has performed this sort of tracking for awhile. Browsers like Google Chrome put this in action, but Apple’s Safari had blocked the Doubleclick Ad network and their functions. Despite this, Google had found a way to get around this block, and continued to track.
This settlement between Google and the FTC is part of a five month process after the discovery about the loophole in February. Back then, Google claimed that it was simply using “known Safari functionality”, also said that once these extra cookies were found, they started to be removed.
The New York Times also reports from the Wall Street Journal that Google is not going to claim any liability of privacy violations even after the settlement has been made, which was done to avoid any courts. They maintain that nothing was done wrong, but that the activity with Safari was merely unintentional, and proper steps were executed to alleviate the issue upon external discoveries.
Even with this large amount of money that Google is paying out, it’s not really much of a set back to them. According to CNN Money, the mammoth search engine racked in earnings of $2.9 billion just last quarter.