FTC Fines Google $22.5 Million for Safari Privacy Violations
Posted in: Government & Policy at 10/08/2012 14:07
The Federal Trade Commission fined Google $22.5 million on Thursday to settle charges that it had bypassed privacy settings in Apple's Safari browser to be able to track users of the browser and show them advertisements, and violated an earlier privacy settlement with the agency.
The fine is the largest civil penalty ever levied by the commission, which has been cracking down on tech companies for privacy violations and is also investigating Google for antitrust violations.
Google fined over Safari cookie privacy row
Google has agreed to pay the largest fine ever imposed on a single company by the US Federal Trade Commission.
The firm agreed to pay $22.5m (£14.4m) after monitoring web surfers using Apple's Safari browser who had a "do not track" privacy setting selected.
Google does not have to admit wrongdoing as part of the settlement.
Google to pay record $22.5m fine to FTC over Safari tracking
Google is to pay a record $22.5m (£14.4m) fine to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the US after it tracked users of Apple's iPhone, iPad and Mac computers by circumventing privacy protections on the Safari web browser for several months at the end of 2011 and into 2012.
The fine is the largest paid by one company to the FTC, which imposed a 20-year privacy order on Google in March 2010 after concerns about the launch of its ill-fated Buzz social network.
Google settles FTC privacy case for $22.5 million, agency's largest penalty
Google and the Federal Trade Commission Thursday announced the company has agreed to a $22.5 million settlement -- the agency's largest penalty ever -- on charges that Google misrepresented its actions to users of Apple's Safari browser.
The FTC charged that Google had placed tracking cookies on users' computers, in some cases working around the privacy settings of Apple's browser. This, the agency said, violated a settlement Google made with the FTC last March over privacy issues with its Google Buzz social network. In that settlement, Google agreed not to misrepresent its privacy policies to consumers.
FTC Approves Final Settlement With Facebook - Facebook Must Obtain Consumers' Consent Before Sharing Their Information Beyond Established Privacy Settings [news release]
Following a public comment period, the FTC has accepted as final a settlement with Facebook resolving charges that Facebook deceived consumers by telling them they could keep their information on Facebook private, and then repeatedly allowing it to be shared and made public.
The settlement requires Facebook to take several steps to make sure it lives up to its promises in the future, including by giving consumers clear and prominent notice and obtaining their express consent before sharing their information beyond their privacy settings, by maintaining a comprehensive privacy program to protect consumers' information, and by obtaining biennial privacy audits from an independent third party.
The Commission vote to approve the final order and letters to members of the public who commented on it was 3-1-1 with Commissioner J. Thomas Rosch dissenting and Commissioner Maureen K. Ohlhausen not participating. The Commission issued a statement authored by Chairman Jon D. Leibowitz and Commissioners Edith Ramirez and Julie Brill. The Commission statement affirmed that, based on the extensive investigation of the staff, there is a strong reason to believe that the settlement is in the public interest, and that the Order's provisions make clear that Facebook will be liable for a broad range of deceptive conduct. As set forth in his separate statement, Commissioner Rosch dissented from the acceptance of the final consent order, questioning whether Facebook's express denial of liability provided "a reason to believe" that the settlement was "in the interest of the public" and expressing concern that the final consent order may not unequivocally cover all representations made in the Facebook environment. (FTC File No. 092-3184; the staff contact is Laura Berger, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-460-8364; see press release dated November 29, 2011.)
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