July 12, 2012- After only nine months since Google’s privacy settlement with regulators, it has been fined for its first violation. Google has a deal with the Federal Trade Commission to pay a fine of $22.5 million for evading privacy settings on the Apple Safari browser, said a source close to the situation.
The fine would be the FTC’s largest ever penalty against one individual company, but it would amount to only a slap on the wrist for the Internet search giant, which saw earnings of $2.9 billion in the first three months of this year.
The terms of the fine still remain subject to FTC commissioners’ approval but would include a clause where Google admits no wrongdoing. Google has admitted previously to skirting privacy settings on the Apple Safari browser, a move that allowed advertisers to follow users in ways that were not originally intended. Google disabled the technology when it was exposed by privacy researchers in February.
The controversy over Safari erupted in February when a Stanford University researchers found out Google was overriding privacy settings that had been set on Safari. Even though its sounds like a dire situation, the evasion by Google was quite trivial. What they did amounted to ad targeting and let advertisers deliver customized messages to users browsing history. No personal information of users was ever collected.