Print 14 comment(s) - last by hexxthalion.. on Jul 12 at 10:08 AM

Google was charged with bypassing Apple Safari user privacy settings in order to track those who had previously blocked that type of tracking

Google may have to pay the largest fine ever given by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in a privacy settlement regarding Apple's Safari users.

Google, which invaded the privacy settings of users of Apple's Safari browser, could pay as much as $22.5 million to the FTC for its actions.

Google was charged with bypassing Apple Safari user privacy settings in order to track those who had previously blocked that type of tracking. Google used special computer code, or cookies, to do so.

The Wall Street Journal ended up outing Google for placing ad-tracking cookies on Safari users. These third-party cookies are used to track what users are doing on the Internet, which in turn helps Web giants like Google target users with suitable advertisements.

Google was able to successfully get past Safari's browser settings for privacy, which attempts to block certain types of cookies. Safari accepts first-party cookies (the Web site the user is on) or second-party cookies (the user's browser), but blocks third-party cookies, which links the browser to an entirely different Web site. The mobile version of Safari, which can be found on iOS devices, has the ability to block all cookies or none at all.

After Google's actions were discovered, Microsoft found that the Android/search giant was doing the same thing with Internet Explorer users. Microsoft suggested that IE9 users use a feature called Tracking Protection.

Google responded to the charges by saying that the tracking was unintentional, and that no harm came from the company's inadvertent actions.

"The FTC is focused on a 2009 help center page," said Google. "We have now changed that page and taken steps to remove the ad cookies."

Source: Reuters

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this just in
By kleinma on 7/10/2012 11:26:57 AM , Rating: 3
google reaches in pocket, pulls out 22.5 Million, brushes pocket lint off of it, and hands it over.

RE: this just in
By nofear4COMment on 7/10/12, Rating: 0
RE: this just in
By ltcommanderdata on 7/10/2012 1:13:10 PM , Rating: 5
google reaches in pocket, pulls out 22.5 Million, brushes pocket lint off of it, and hands it over.

Which essentially means invading user privacy/personal information is a bargain for corporations.

RE: this just in
By NellyFromMA on 7/10/2012 1:58:47 PM , Rating: 2
Well, ya. Google practically survives solely on providing excellent search and violating your expected privacy to generate profits to fund said infrastructure via targetted ads.

That is essentially their entire (profitable) business model. The only thing that has changes is that they largely try to redefine what is 'expected privacy' by eroding the accepted status quo of what you can expect for privacy in this day and age.

By doing so, that is more profit for them. In this way, Google can never REALLY maximize profits by advocating for your privacy. This is why I do not prefer Google for anything other than search, and with my protected mode on at that.

RE: this just in
By inperfectdarkness on 7/11/2012 6:44:45 AM , Rating: 2
oh that much is certain. thanks to youtube being bought out by apple, i have to log in to it to see certain types of videos--but if i don't log out, google will now record all of my searches as being tied to my username.


RE: this just in
By JackBurton on 7/10/2012 1:15:21 PM , Rating: 1
Apple takes it and tosses on their pile of money.

RE: this just in
By kleinma on 7/10/2012 2:46:23 PM , Rating: 2
What else is Scrooge McCook going to fill his money bin with to swin around in?

RE: this just in
By Trisped on 7/11/2012 2:19:04 PM , Rating: 2
Apple takes it and tosses on their pile of money.
Why would Apple get the money? The FTC is placing the fine. As such, the FTC would get the money (unless it is needed to pay for damages, though I doubt that they are going to find all the Safari users who were affected).

By hexxthalion on 7/11/2012 6:10:45 AM , Rating: 2
no Tiffany... what google was doing was using <form> element to bypass users' settings and that's very dodgy. I recently rejected implementation of similar dodgy tracking pixel which also uses <form> element in it to do exactly the same thing

By hexxthalion on 7/11/2012 6:12:42 AM , Rating: 1
just to add, all these tracking companies are just bunch of leeches, without a spine. they will always try to do whatever they can get away with, they don't give a shit about your customers or your website

By Trisped on 7/11/2012 2:29:44 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds like a bug in the software to me. If a standard HTML page can get around the browsers settings just by putting a request in a <form> element (an extremely common element on pages) then the browser did not implement its settings correctly.

The thing about HTML is that "as long as it works, it is ok" is the common mantra. Even if there is a rule that a cookie should not be placed using code inside a <form> element, if it achieves the goal it is considered ok. This is because many rules cannot be followed due to incorrect or incomplete implementation of browsers. For example, you are not suppose to use tables for layout, instead they should be used to present "tabular data". But, if you want your layout to have columns which auto size based on the width of the browser window then you have to use tables, because the div styles which are suppose to do the same thing do not work in most popular browsers.

This means it will be very hard to prove malicious intent, and thus, that Google is in need of a fine. If I was Google I would just state that it only occurred on a few pages and was the result of a coding preference and not malicious intent. It would be hard for anyone to prove otherwise, as these types of things are common to web pages (as noted above).

By hexxthalion on 7/12/2012 10:08:01 AM , Rating: 2
By NellyFromMA on 7/10/2012 1:54:18 PM , Rating: 3
Google used special computer code, or cookies, to do so.

Hmmm, why does the author refer to cookies as 'special computer code'?

Seems like an awkward quasi-technical description of something I think everyone (especially dt readers) are fully aware of... and I think NONE would describe it as 'special computer code'.

Minor detail, but reading that made me laugh.

No harm was done?
By BugblatterIII on 7/10/2012 1:34:29 PM , Rating: 1
You tracked people who'd said not to track them. You violated their privacy. That's harm.

And what you did with IE wasn't accidental; you deliberately violated the standard for reporting privacy information by returning plain text rather than codes or nothing. You knew what effect that would have, i.e. bypassing the browser's protection.

Oh, while we're here, your 're-marketing' (internet stalking) is why every website in the EU has to educate users on what its cookies do (after educating them on what a cookie is). And yet your own site doesn't seem to mention what cookies it puts on our browsers. So you get us in this mess, we have to change our sites because we can't afford to be fined but you'll just wait for the fine and pay it from your petty cash.

I do like Android though. Nice work on that. Perhaps you could just stop doing all the evil so we can like you again? Oh, and pay some tax!

"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes

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