Google to pay $17M settlement for bypassing Apple's Safari security settings

Posted:
in General Discussion edited February 2014
As part of a settlement announcement on Monday, Google has agreed to pay out $17 million to 37 U.S. states, as well as the District of Columbia, for ignoring anti-tracking protocols baked in to Apple's Safari Web browser.



According to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the state attorneys general took Google to task over unauthorized placement of cookies on users' machines when they visited sites on the Internet search giant's DoubleClick ad network between 2011 and 2012, reports PCWorld.

The process was considered a breach of privacy as Google did not ask permission from visitors, nor did it inform them that the tracking method was being used.

"Consumers should be able to know whether there are other eyes surfing the web with them," Schneiderman said. "By tracking millions of people without their knowledge, Google violated not only their privacy, but also their trust."

Over one year ago, Google agreed to pay a $22.5 million fine to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission over the same questionable practices. At the time, it was the largest penalty ever paid to the FTC for a civil violation.

For its part, Google continues to assert that no private information was gathered by the tactic, and that subsequently inserted cookies were a byproduct of unforeseen behavior from Safari. Safari by default blocks third-party cookies, but at the same time allows for cookie-based web features such as "Like" buttons and personalized content.

In a statement to AppleInsider last year, Google explained:
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.
As part of the settlement, Google promised not to override any Web browser's cookie blocking features unless first given specific consent from the user. In addition, Google will be providing more information to consumers on how cookies work and how to use them.

"We work hard to get privacy right at Google and have taken steps to remove the ad cookies, which collected no personal information, from Apple's browsers," a Google spokesperson said.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 42
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,805member
    Good. . Whether really by accident or purposefully it shouldn't have happened. Personally I think that even if it started out as a surprise I doubt it took Google long to recognize what the result was. They shoulda put a stop to it long before they did. Now time to settle it, move on and do better.
  • Reply 2 of 42
    "unforeseen behavior from Safari"

    Keep at it Google. I think most of your employees use Safari themselves, but yeah, keep on insisting that you had no idea what you were doing. Bit like trying to gather SSID, passwords, publishing copyright work of others, because, you know, it's really cool to start a company and share all your knowledge, make it accessible to the world.

    You know, some things are private for a reason. That's why we call it private.
  • Reply 3 of 42
    The word clockwork comes to mind here after hitting the submit button just now.
  • Reply 4 of 42
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,805member
    philboogie wrote: »
    "unforeseen behavior from Safari"

    publishing copyright work of others...

    You probably missed a copyright case involving Google that finally settled last week after several years of meandering thru the courts. It got a lot of press but not a peep at AI surprisingly.
  • Reply 5 of 42
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,805member
    philboogie wrote: »
    The word clockwork comes to mind here after hitting the submit button just now.

    And we both had the same general view too. Google either knew or should have known what the result was. Either way deserved punishment.
  • Reply 6 of 42
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,360member

    Where's my money from this settlement?

     

    It says that Google will pay about $900,000 to my state. What does the state do with the money? Pocket it and defraud the tax payers? This settlement should only benefit Safari users, as they were the ones who were violated by Google.

     

    Since I'm an Apple user and a Safari user and I live in one of the states that will be receiving money, should I not be receiving any money? I don't care if it's only a few pennies, it's the principle of the matter.

  • Reply 7 of 42

    If only the NSA was forced to do this.

  • Reply 8 of 42
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,805member
    apple ][ wrote: »
    Where's my money from this settlement?

    It says that Google will pay about $900,000 to my state. What does the state do with the money? Pocket it and defraud the tax payers? This settlement should only benefit Safari users, as they were the ones who were violated by Google.

    Since I'm an Apple user and a Safari user and I live in one of the states that will be receiving money, should I not be receiving any money? I don't care if it's only a few pennies, it's the principle of the matter.

    Hey, Google is going to give everyone more information about cookies for the next five years. Be Happy!

    EDIT: IIRC there were a few other companies using similar bypass techniques that also found themselves in court. Guess those must still be ongoing? I'll see if I can find it.
  • Reply 9 of 42
    We work hard to get privacy right at Google" a Google spokesperson said.

    Ha, ha, ha , ha, ha, ha!

    Google spy on the NSA /s
  • Reply 10 of 42
    gtrgtr Posts: 3,231member
    gatorguy wrote: »
    Now time to settle it, move on and do better.

    The Google groupie has spoken.

    I say dig deeper into Google other business activities, see what we find, and fine harder.

    They have nothing to fear if they're innocent, right?

    ;)
  • Reply 11 of 42
    Do no Evil. LOL
  • Reply 12 of 42
    gatorguy wrote: »

    You probably missed a copyright case involving Google that finally settled last week after several years of meandering thru the courts. It got a lot of press but not a peep at AI surprisingly.

    No, I read it, here:
    http://www.popularmechanics.com/how-to/blog/heres-why-a-judge-finally-decided-google-books-is-legal-16161460

    And this was an easy win for them. I just think it's a waste of tax payers money to drag this on for so long.
    gatorguy wrote: »

    And we both had the same general view too. Google either knew or should have known what the result was. Either way deserved punishment.

    I don't think $17M is any punishment to Google, but ok, they lost. For once I think Google is on the same page as me: they're probably thinking "big deal".
  • Reply 13 of 42
    irelandireland Posts: 17,521member
    Somewhat unrelated:

    1. How does zeobit.com (or however you spell it) bypass 'block cookies always' in Safari?

    2. How does TPB bypass 'block popups' in Safari?

    3. Why when I sometimes delete a cookie (eg zeobit) in Safari prefs does it literally 1 second later reappear before by eyes and require an additional subsequent deletion to be gone?

    These are ongoing issues with Safari that I think need to seriously be addressed.
  • Reply 14 of 42
    I'm really starting to get tired of googles shenanigans
  • Reply 15 of 42

    WTF?!?!?!?

     

    That's all?!! How much average hacker would have paid should he did something similar?!?!

  • Reply 16 of 42

    17Million.   about 90 minutes of profits for Google.

  • Reply 17 of 42
    irelandireland Posts: 17,521member
    philboogie wrote: »
    I don't think $17M is any punishment to Google, but ok, they lost.

    It's big enough a number for the average person to recognise it as a PR issue for Google.
  • Reply 18 of 42
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,608member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TheOtherGeoff View Post

     

    17Million.   about 90 minutes of profits for Google.


     

    Not about the amount. It’s about the bragging rights to call Google “evil.” 

  • Reply 19 of 42
    Originally Posted by skyweir View Post

    Do no Evil. LOL

     

    Nope! Big distinction there. Google’s unofficial motto is “Don’t be evil”. That doesn’t mean they can’t do evil.

     

    Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

    1. How does zeobit.com (or however you spell it) bypass 'block cookies always' in Safari?

     

    I’d guess the same way Google did?

     

    2. How does TPB bypass 'block popups' in Safari?


     

    A lot of sites do that these days. Those are pop-unders, not ups. I forget the mechanism by which they’re called, but it’s different from what Safari is looking for with a pop-up.

  • Reply 20 of 42
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,414member

    I use a little program called littlesnitch, and you would be surprised about all the things Google is doing behind the scene of your computer. I have blocked most all of Google various snooping cookies they load onto your computer. I also use an ad blocker to block their ads. For the most part I think I got most their stuff block from phoning home to the mother ship of google.

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