Google to Pay $17 Million Settlement to States in Safari Privacy Circumvention Case
Thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia have agreed to a $17 million settlement with Google over the company's circumvention of privacy settings in Safari, reports PCWorld. Google previously agreed to a $22.5 million settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to settle a similar case between the company and the federal government.
Google took advantage of a loophole in Safari's privacy settings designed to prevent placement of third-party cookies by default, using invisible web forms to trick Safari into thinking that users had interacted with Google's ads and thus allowing cookies to be placed on the device.
Graphic from The Wall Street Journal
"Consumers should be able to know whether there are other eyes surfing the web with them," [New York Attorney General Eric] Schneiderman said in a statement. "By tracking millions of people without their knowledge, Google violated not only their privacy, but also their trust."
Google said it was pleased to reach the settlement. "We work hard to get privacy right at Google and have taken steps to remove the ad cookies, which collected no personal information, from Apple's browsers," a spokeswoman said by email.
Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin were all involved in the settlement.