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Google agrees to pay privacy settlement of US$17m

NEW YORK CITY, USA: Officials have confirmed that Google will pay US$17m to settle an investigation by US states into its use of unauthorised tracking software on Apple's Safari web browsers.
Inside the Googleplex offices, programmers wrote special code to allow Google to circumvent the security settings in Safari web browsers. Image: Wiki Images.
New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the multi-state agreement on Google's unauthorised placement of cookies on computers using Apple Safari web browsers during 2011 and 2012.

Google last year paid a US$22.5m fine to the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over the same issue. The FTC said Google had agreed with the commission in October 2011 not to place tracking cookies or deliver targeted advertisements to Safari users, but then went ahead and did so.

The latest settlement includes 37 states and the federal District of Columbia. New York will receive US$899,580, Schneiderman said.

Google code circumvented security

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

"We must give consumers the reassurance that they can browse the Internet safely and securely. My office will continue to protect New Yorkers from any attempts to deliberately expose their personal data," Schneiderman said.

The statement said Google altered its coding to circumvent privacy settings on Safari, without consumers' knowledge or consent.

Google also agreed not to deploy the type of code to override a browser's cookie blocking settings in the future without consent unless it is needed to detect or prevent fraud or thwart other security issues.

A Google spokesman confirmed the agreement and said: "We work hard to get privacy right at Google and have taken steps to remove the cookies, which collected no personal information, from Apple's browsers. We're pleased to have worked with the different attorneys general to reach this agreement."

Source: AFP via I-Net Bridge


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