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Google Settles Over Safari Privacy Breach; Will Pay Record $22.5M Fine

As several news outlets had predicted last month would happen, Google is going to pay $22.5 million — the largest civil penalty the Federal Trade Commission has ever levied — to settle charges that it wasn't straight with users of Apple's Safari browser about how it would track their Web surfing.

It Never Hurts To Ask

What's are "cookies?" Here's the FTC's definition: "Cookies are small pieces of computer text that are used to collect information from computers and can be used to serve targeted ads to consumers. By placing a tracking cookie on a user's computer, an advertising network can collect information about the user's web-browsing activities and use that information to serve online ads targeted to the user's interests or for other purposes."

The FTC says Google violated an earlier privacy settlement it reached with the agency by going ahead and placing tracking "cookies" on those users' computers. According to the agency:

"In its complaint, the FTC charged that for several months in 2011 and 2012, Google placed a certain advertising tracking cookie on the computers of Safari users who visited sites within Google's DoubleClick advertising network, although Google had previously told these users they would automatically be opted out of such tracking, as a result of the default settings of the Safari browser used in Macs, iPhones and iPads."

The FTC has much more about what Google did on its Tech@FTC blog.

According to The Associated Press, while the company has agreed to the fine, "Google Inc. isn't admitting any wrongdoing in the latest settlement."

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