I found this on Reuters today:
“ U.S. regulators will require Google Inc to pay a civil penalty of $22.5 million to settle charges that it bypassed the privacy settings of customers using Apple Inc’s Safari browser, two people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.
Members of the Federal Trade Commission voted to approve a consent decree that will allow Google to settle the agency’s investigation but admit no liability, said one of the sources, who was not authorized to speak on the record.”
It is expected, that in a few days some kind of official announcement will be released – after their lawyers, advisers, negotiators and marketing people review and approve it for distribution.
$22 Million is a big fine. It certainly grabbed my eye, and so thought I would put it up here.
The whole things was started by allegations that Google set the sites “cookies” to trick Apple’s Safari browser so Google could monitor users who had blocked such tracking. The Safari browser can be set by the user to block sites ability to track the users browsing habits and patterns.
Ah Google, the new new evil technology company (Microsoft is the old new evil technology company and IBM is the original evil technology company).
Yes Google has been, lurking in the shadows, waiting to violate it’s customers… Well, Google said that the tracking was inadvertent – just a tiny mistake – and that it collected no personal information like names, addresses or credit card data. Just trivial info like how the users browse their site, and what they are looking for on it.
TIME FOR A PROBE
The problem is that this tracking was done despite public announcements that Safari could be set to protect users’ privacy and it was this aspect that prompted an FTC probe into whether Google violated a consent decree it signed last year. That decree said that Google would not misrepresent its privacy policies, which this cookie code actually does. Opps.
To make matters worse, Google also faces potential sanctions from other governments around the planet, and it is being investigated by the European Union to determine if the company complies with Europe’s stricter privacy laws.
In addition to those probes, the worlds most used search engine provider (Google) is also the subject of a big antitrust investigation by the FTC and European regulators over accusations that it manipulated it’s own search results to favor its own products. No, that’s not evil.
OK, for a company that has tens of $billions in the bank, $22 million is not that much. The question is weather Google will lose some of it’s customers trust, and that could hurt the bottom line later in the future.
Ah, the future… I wonder who will be the new new new evil technology company…