or Connect
AppleInsider › Forums › General › General Discussion › Google reportedly fined $22.5M for bypassing Safari privacy settings
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Google reportedly fined $22.5M for bypassing Safari privacy settings

post #1 of 69
Thread Starter 
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission will order Google to pay a $22.5 million civil penalty for sidestepping security settings in Apple's Safari web browser, bringing an end to a nearly six month long investigation.

According to Reuters sources, members of the FTC voted to approve a consent decree, allowing the internet search giant to settle the investigation without admitting liability. The claims are in-line with an early July report that said Google's settlement would be the largest in FTC history.

The FTC probe was initiated after a February Wall Street Journal investigation alleged Google and other ad networks bypassed Safari's security protocols. In order to override the browser's privacy settings the companies implemented code which misrepresented their ads as user form submissions, a method that proved to be an effective workaround against Safari's third-party cookie-blocking measures.

A subsequent report in May said government talks with Google could result in "tens of millions of dollars" in fines.



In a comment to AppleInsider, Google said:


The Journal mischaracterizes what happened and why. We used known Safari functionality to provide features that signed-in Google users had enabled. It?s important to stress that these advertising cookies do not collect personal information.

Unlike other major browsers, Apple?s Safari browser blocks third-party cookies by default. However, Safari enables many web features for its users that rely on third parties and third-party cookies, such as ?Like? buttons. Last year, we began using this functionality to enable features for signed-in Google users on Safari who had opted to see personalized ads and other content--such as the ability to ?+1? things that interest them.

To enable these features, we created a temporary communication link between Safari browsers and Google?s servers, so that we could ascertain whether Safari users were also signed into Google, and had opted for this type of personalization. But we designed this so that the information passing between the user?s Safari browser and Google?s servers was anonymous--effectively creating a barrier between their personal information and the web content they browse.

However, the Safari browser contained functionality that then enabled other Google advertising cookies to be set on the browser. We didn?t anticipate that this would happen, and we have now started removing these advertising cookies from Safari browsers. It?s important to stress that, just as on other browsers, these advertising cookies do not collect personal information.


Other ad networks that purportedly used the workaround include Vibrant Media, Media Innovation Group and Gannett PointRoll, though government action against the companies has yet to surface.

The FTC declined to comment on the matter and Google offered only a brief explanation, saying the government investigation was in regard to an out-of-date 2009 help center web page which didn't reflect changes made to Apple's cookie-handling policy.

"We have now changed that page and taken steps to remove the ad cookies, which collected no personal information, from Apple's browsers," a Google spokeswoman said.
post #2 of 69

Shame that money doesn't go to Apple.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

Reply

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

Reply
post #3 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Shame that money doesn't go to Apple.

That's a few hours of profit for Apple. While I don't agree with the decision the UK judge made toward Apple I do like the punishment. Having companies pay a fine that is a few million dollars will not discourage this behavior in the future.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

Reply

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

Reply
post #4 of 69

So I wonder how many dollars that represents for each Safari user affected by this?

 

Obviously expressly stealing people's private data against their wishes mustn't hold much value.

Better than my Bose, better than my Skullcandy's, listening to Mozart through my LeBron James limited edition PowerBeats by Dre is almost as good as my Sennheisers.
Reply
Better than my Bose, better than my Skullcandy's, listening to Mozart through my LeBron James limited edition PowerBeats by Dre is almost as good as my Sennheisers.
Reply
post #5 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by hill60 View Post

So I wonder how many dollars that represents for each Safari user affected by this?

 

Obviously expressly stealing people's private data against their wishes mustn't hold much value.

Can you prove which data was stolen from you?  How much harm was done you specifically?

post #6 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Shame that money doesn't go to Apple.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by hill60 View Post

So I wonder how many dollars that represents for each Safari user affected by this?

 

Obviously expressly stealing people's private data against their wishes mustn't hold much value.

 

Shouldn't the money go to the Safari users whose rights were infringed upon instead of either Apple or the FTC?

 

$22.5 million per user should just about cover it...

post #7 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by lotones View Post

 

 

Shouldn't the money go to the Safari users whose rights were infringed upon instead of either Apple or the FTC?

 

$22.5 million per user should just about cover it...

 

It's a free browser. Your rights haven't been infringed in the slightest.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

Reply

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

Reply
post #8 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

That's a few hours of profit for Apple. While I don't agree with the decision the UK judge made toward Apple I do like the punishment. Having companies pay a fine that is a few million dollars will not discourage this behavior in the future.

Still, at least its negative publicity, which is a positive thing. Or more precise, it should make people aware of privacy issues while surfing. Before surfing, actually.
post #9 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

It's a free browser. Your rights haven't been infringed in the slightest.

What a stupid argument.
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
Reply
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
Reply
post #10 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

 

It's a free browser. Your rights haven't been infringed in the slightest.

 

What's the price of the browser have to do with anything? I can prove that I used Safari within the time specified. I can prove that I used Google within the time specified. If Google was infringing upon my rights within that time, that should be easy to prove according to court documents, or otherwise the FTC wouldn't have a case.

 

But hey, I'm a reasonable person. I'm willing to take my share in installments…

post #11 of 69
In all fairness, this could have been a case of carelessness or negligence on Google's part, rather than cynical malicious profiteering intent.

Given that though, doesn't that say something about their views on spying on people?

We've never heard anything like that before...

Eric S's and other Google bigwig's opinions on the matter are known.

I sign out of GMail as soon as I'm done using it. Facebook too. Am I paranoid?
post #12 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by lotones View Post

 

What's the price of the browser have to do with anything? I can prove that I used Safari within the time specified. I can prove that I used Google within the time specified. If Google was infringing upon my rights within that time, that should be easy to prove according to court documents, or otherwise the FTC wouldn't have a case.

 

But hey, I'm a reasonable person. I'm willing to take my share in installments…

Can you prove which data was stolen from you?  How much harm was done you specifically?

post #13 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


What a stupid argument.

 

It was in response to a far more stupid claim that everyone who used the browser was owed money. Re-read for clarification.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

Reply

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

Reply
post #14 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Just_Me View Post

Can you prove which data was stolen from you?  How much harm was done you specifically?

 

If he looked in his cache and searched for all of the doubleclick cookies created at times when he didn't interact with an ad at all (likely all of them), then determined how many websites he visited in each browsing session after those cookies were created (using his history), then determined the market value of selling that browsing information to advertisers, it would give a rough estimate of how much Google profited off him without his consent.

 
Reply
 
Reply
post #15 of 69

Might as well have been a $12 fine.

post #16 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Just_Me View Post

Can you prove which data was stolen from you?  How much harm was done you specifically?

 

Exactly. The government has issued a punishment for allegedly flouting the law, thus it claims harm and collects the fee. Seems pretty darn fishy to me.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

Reply

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

Reply
post #17 of 69

A very good question that I asked myself at the time.   I installed a Cookie Tracker/Blocker (Abine. com) and was shocked at the numbers (over 115,000 to date!).   Like most people I get thousands of spam emails per month and even with a spam filter it takes me about 6 hours per month to sort through that junk.  So that's 72 hours per year (or just under two weeks of work time).  

 

So I now ask YOU - what is two weeks of your time worth each year?  Oh and this number is only growing, so that time commitment is sure to increase.

 

This is a pathetically small fine for such an egregious act (remember that Google had agreed last fall NOT to do this, so this was a blatant act in violation of a federal order).  The fine should have been much more and it be nice if the FTC directed those fines to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (a long time advocate for the protection of online rights).

post #18 of 69

I'm not at all surprised that Google got a hand slapped for this. As one of the largest aggregators of personal data they need to be reminded often. Of course just because Google stopped this months ago, others are still bypassing Safari settings last I had read. One of those was Facebook IIRC and I've not seen an article yet claiming they had stopped.

melior diabolus quem scies
Reply
melior diabolus quem scies
Reply
post #19 of 69

The miniscule amount that would go to each Safari user is like that which goes to each one in a class-action suit. Except the government is the lawyer and there is no primary plantiff. Either way you get nothing worth your time to file.

post #20 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by TimmyDax View Post

In all fairness, this could have been a case of carelessness or negligence on Google's part, rather than cynical malicious profiteering intent.

Impossible! They had to write some vary specific Javascript code that would have had no other purpose or use other than to circumvent the Safari cookie settings.

Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

Reply

Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

Reply
post #21 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

 

It was in response to a far more stupid claim that everyone who used the browser was owed money. Re-read for clarification.

 

 

The browser was free from Apple. How does that give Google the right to hack my privacy settings?

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by TimmyDax View Post

In all fairness, this could have been a case of carelessness or negligence on Google's part, rather than cynical malicious profiteering intent.
Given that though, doesn't that say something about their views on spying on people?
We've never heard anything like that before...
Eric S's and other Google bigwig's opinions on the matter are known.
I sign out of GMail as soon as I'm done using it. Facebook too. Am I paranoid?

 

While you're white knighting Google let's look at the scorecard here (a partial scorecard anyway): Google has been caught harvesting scads of personal information, including email, by driving by peoples houses to allegedly map the area. Then they get caught hacking people's privacy settings. How are these not DMCA violations? Then all the Feds do is give them multimillion dollar slaps on the wrist, which is ludicrous. If you don't talk in multibillion dollar fines these corporations will not even acknowledge the trouble.

 

But hey, four easy payments of $5.6 million and I'm willing to let it slide too...

post #22 of 69

I almost ordered a Nexus 7. Then I remembered how much Google respects my privacy. In light of this I don't understand how anyone could trust Chrome as a browser. This incedent has certainly stopped me from installing it anywhere else.

post #23 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by EMoeller View Post

A very good question that I asked myself at the time.   I installed a Cookie Tracker/Blocker (Abine. com) and was shocked at the numbers (over 115,000 to date!).   Like most people I get thousands of spam emails per month and even with a spam filter it takes me about 6 hours per month to sort through that junk.  So that's 72 hours per year (or just under two weeks of work time).  

You might want to consider a service to handle that for you, that is if you value your time in dollars. I can recommend MXLogic who we have been using for years. I'm not sure of the cost since we have a corporate account but I think it is pretty reasonable and absolutely effective. I never receive spam, and believe me when I tell you, I am on every imaginable list since I have had the same email address since 1994.

Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

Reply

Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

Reply
post #24 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by lotones View Post

 

The browser was free from Apple. How does that give Google the right to hack my privacy settings?

 

Your "rights" regarding privacy are part of the software users agreement whenever you use that piece of software and in turn, are limited by whatever is written into the agreement. "Rights" are inherent and they cannot be given or taken, however there is no "right to privacy" in the Constitution. It is only partially addressed in the Bill of Rights (freedom of speech, protections against unreasonable search and seizure, etc.), but those have nothing to do with perceived "rights" on the Internet. You need to re-read the founding documents.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

Reply

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

Reply
post #25 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by bloodstains View Post

I almost ordered a Nexus 7. Then I remembered how much Google respects my privacy. In light of this I don't understand how anyone could trust Chrome as a browser. This incedent has certainly stopped me from installing it anywhere else.

Tho I'm sure there's plenty of room for improvements, Google does offers quite a bit of transparency about the data collected on you, and lots of ways to control it.

http://www.google.com/policies/privacy/tools/

 

I'm sure that Apple has a similar page showing what they've collected and ways to remove and limit it it, as does Facebook and Microsoft. Perhaps someone here could supply the links for comparison.


Edited by Gatorguy - 7/31/12 at 3:10pm
melior diabolus quem scies
Reply
melior diabolus quem scies
Reply
post #26 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

Google offers a lot of transparency about the data collected on you, and lots of ways to control it.

http://www.google.com/policies/privacy/tools/

 

I'm sure that Apple has a similar page showing what they've collected and ways to remove it, as does Facebook and Microsoft. Perhaps someone here could supply the links.

The point is they've already proven they're willing to ignore my privacy requests. Once you breech someone's trust you'll find in life it's much harder to earn it back.

post #27 of 69

Quote:

Originally Posted by lotones View Post

 

The browser was free from Apple. How does that give Google the right to hack my privacy settings?

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

 

Your "rights" regarding privacy are part of the software users agreement whenever you use that piece of software and in turn, are limited by whatever is written into the agreement. "Rights" are inherent and they cannot be given or taken, however there is no "right to privacy" in the Constitution. It is only partially addressed in the Bill of Rights (freedom of speech, protections against unreasonable search and seizure, etc.), but those have nothing to do with perceived "rights" on the Internet. You need to re-read the founding documents.

 

?

 

"Do no evil" = do whatever you want, sell shares to the people who write and enforce legislation, and pay the small fines. 


Edited by lotones - 7/31/12 at 3:15pm
post #28 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by bloodstains View Post

The point is they've already proven they're willing to ignore my privacy requests. Once you breech someone's trust you'll find in life it's much harder to earn it back.

Harder or impossible?

 

Anyway, perhaps you have a link to pages showing the data some of the others have collected about you personally?

melior diabolus quem scies
Reply
melior diabolus quem scies
Reply
post #29 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by lotones View Post

While you're white knighting Google let's look at the scorecard here

Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Impossible! They had to write some vary specific Javascript code

Giving them the benefit of the doubt isn't saying much. They seem to claim circumventing the security setting was for Google+ and Account holders (who have little to no privacy rights) but... um... the monkeys escaped and... someone slipped on the f everyone button?

Even if what they preach is somewhat partially kinda true ...ish...

...and that's a big if, admittedly...

...they clearly have no sense whatsoever that what they do might be a teensy bit dubious, and the bigger crime is the amount of money they make (ie. all of it) selling all our data we generously and graciously provide them with (anonymously!) every second. After all, apart from ad space on Google.com, what else do they have?

That's enough for me.
post #30 of 69

This is bad news - they're actually having to pull out the couches at Google HQ to find the spare change to pay the fine.  

post #31 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

Harder or impossible?

 

Anyway, perhaps you have a link to pages showing the data some of the others have collected about you personally?

Harder.

 

What others? And why would I share my personal info with you or the Internet?

post #32 of 69
Originally Posted by bloodstains View Post
In light of this I don't understand how anyone could trust Chrome as a browser.

 

Or Google as an advertising service entirely, since it affected Safari users.

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply
post #33 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by bloodstains View Post

Harder.

 

What others? And why would I share my personal info with you or the Internet?

Apple tracks/collects info on you via user/device ID. They keep what data they collect a secret.

 

Nothing in the world is free. Like this site and others, advertisement keeps it running.

post #34 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by bloodstains View Post

Harder.

 

What others? And why would I share my personal info with you or the Internet?

You don't need to list your info. That would be silly. Give me a link to the pages where I can see what Apple or Microsoft or Facebook has collected on me.

melior diabolus quem scies
Reply
melior diabolus quem scies
Reply
post #35 of 69
Originally Posted by Just_Me View Post
Apple tracks/collects info on you via user/device ID. They keep what data they collect a secret.

 

Do they? Like what?

 

And if the data they take is a secret, how do you know they're taking data at all? It's a secret…

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply
post #36 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Just_Me View Post

Apple tracks/collects info on you via user/device ID. They keep what data they collect a secret.

 

Nothing in the world is free. Like this site and others, advertisement keeps it running.

I didn't tell Apple not to collect my info; I suspect if I had they would have respected my request. It's one of the benifits Apple enjoys from not having broken my trust.

 

You're arguments are generic and do not address the point I've made.

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

You don't need to list your info. That would be silly. Give me a link to the pages where I can see what Apple or Microsoft or Facebook has collected on me.

Why?

post #37 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

Do they? Like what?

 

And if the data they take is a secret, how do you know they're taking data at all? It's a secret…

its not a secret that the track data on you.

 

https://developer.apple.com/iad/

 

you can opt out

http://gigaom.com/apple/quick-tip-opt-out-of-iad-data-collection/

http://oo.apple.com

post #38 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by bloodstains View Post

Why?

Why not? Surely you don't mind being helpful and pointing to the pages where I can request tracking be stopped and information already gathered is erased. I am aware of Apple having an opt-out page for iAd specifically. 


Edited by Gatorguy - 7/31/12 at 3:57pm
melior diabolus quem scies
Reply
melior diabolus quem scies
Reply
post #39 of 69

Where's my check?

post #40 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by bloodstains View Post

 

I didn't tell Apple not to collect my info; I suspect if I had they would have respected my request. It's one of the benifits Apple enjoys from not having broken my trust.

 

You're arguments are generic and do not address the point I've made.

 

 

Why?

 

you have to opt out.

 

Did you opt in for path and other apps to take your contact list? No. 

http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/12/02/15/us_congressmen_send_letter_to_apple_inquiring_about_ios_address_book_security.html

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: General Discussion
AppleInsider › Forums › General › General Discussion › Google reportedly fined $22.5M for bypassing Safari privacy settings