Google to Pay $22.5M Fine for Bypassing Safari Privacy Settings

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission and Google are close to wrapping up a deal that will cost the Internet search giant US$22.5 million in fines for bypassing the privacy settings in Apple’s Safari Web browser. The fine may be little more than a drop in the bucket for Google, but it is the largest fine the FTC has ever levied on a single company.

Google faces $22.5M fine for bypassing Safari's privacy settingsGoogle faces $22.5M fine for bypassing Safari’s privacy settings

Researchers discovered earlier this year that Google included code in online ads that side stepped Safari’s privacy settings, allowing advertisers to track user’s web browser activity. Google claimed that they were using features built into Safari to “provide features that signed-in Google users had enabled.”

While Google claimed it wasn’t doing anything wrong, it disabled the ad code after it was discovered. The company is now saying, according to the Wall Street Journal, that allowing advertisers to track user activity by bypassing Safari’s privacy settings wasn’t intended, but that consumers weren’t harmed by the action.

Once Google settles with the FTC, it will still face potential lawsuits from individual states over privacy violations.

The settlement is still waiting for FTC commissioner approval.