Google will pay a $22.5m fine to the US Federal Trade Commission for bypassing the default privacy settings on Apple’s Safari browser.
It was revealed by the Wall Street Journal in February this year that Google used code that “tricked” Safari into allowing users to have their online browsing habits tracked.
Apple’s browser blocks most tracking by default with exceptions for websites that, for example, require interaction from a user – such as the filling in of an online form. Google claimed at the time that it had “mischaracterised” the code used by the ad companies.
Google later disabled the code, which installed a temporary cookie on the phones or computers of Safari users; the search biz’s developers had embedded code into some of its ads that fooled the Apple browser into thinking that a form was being submitted to Google.
The consent decree in question is the one the internet giant signed with the FTC in October last year, when Google agreed to be much more up front about its data-handling methods with its customers.
Google is undergoing a separate antitrust investigation in the US over claims the company unfairly manipulated results on its search engine to favour its own business.
This is not the first time Google has found itself in court. In 2011, a Belgian court found Google guilty of illegally showing parts of articles of Belgian newspapers on its News Service, ordering it to pay daily fines until it removed the content. However, Google has refused to pay any fines and did not recognise the verdict.
In 2009 Rubens Barrichello, the Brazilian Formula-1 driver, accused Google of making his fake online profiles available on social network Orkut. Although the final decision of Sao Paulo Court was in favour of Barrichello, his lawyer announced that the $500,000 was awarded would be donated to the charity.