The Federal Trade Commission will reportedly fine Google
millions of dollars for hacking around privacy settings
on iPhones and iPads.
Nonprofit organization Consumer Watchdog had filed a
filed a complaint in February with the FTC after
Stanford Researcher Jonathan Mayer revealed what the
Internet giant was doing.
Sara Forden of Bloomberg News today reported the
Commission is negotiating with Google about how big the
fine will be. She cited an unidentified source as
saying the fine could amount to more than $10 million.
"Google hacked past a key privacy setting on iPhones and
iPads and other devices using Apple?s Safari browser,
placed tracking cookies on them and then lied, saying
the settings were still effective," said John M.
Simpson, Consumer Watchdog's Privacy Project director.
"I am delighted the FTC appears ready to take strong
action against an obvious violation of Google's promises
to honor users' privacy in its 'Buzz' Consent Decree
with the Commission."
Under the terms of the consent decree, the FTC can fine
Google up to $16,000 per violation per day.
A study released in February by Jonathan Mayer of
Stanford University's Security Lab, and the Center for
Internet and Society, found that Google has been
circumventing a privacy setting in Apple's Safari web
browser. Like most web browsers, Safari provides the
option not to receive third-party "cookies." Cookies
are small bits of code placed on the browser and can be
used by ad networks to track you as you surf the web.
Blocking third-party cookies is supposed to prevent such
Safari is the primary browser on the iPhone and iPad. It
is also the default browser on Apple?s computers.
The Stanford study found that three other companies --
Vibrant Media Inc., WPP PLC's Media Innovation Group LLC
and Gannett Co.'s PointRoll Inc. -- were also
circumventing the Safari privacy setting.