POSTED: Friday, August 10, 2012 - 8:34am
UPDATED: Friday, August 10, 2012 - 11:00am
Company will pay $22.5 million for breaching privacy promise with Safari browser users.
Google has agreed to pay more than $22-million to settle charges it violated privacy laws by tracking users of Apple's Safari browser.
Federal Trade Commission regulators say Google used cookies to monitor Safari browser users on iPhones, iPads and Macs even though those users had turned on Apple privacy features to prevent just such tracking.
"For six months, by enabling this feature, Google was able to have a near monopoly on tracking iPhones and Apple devices where only another handful of advertisers have access to," notes technology consultant Ashkan Soltani.
Google says it was a technical glitch that never collected personal data.
In a statement, Google said it had "taken steps to remove the ad cookies, which collected no personal information from Apple's browsers."
Technology experts say the information google gathered, even inadvertently, is still valuable.
"There's a lot of money in knowing who we are, where we are and what we want to buy at any given time and all of these companies are fighting to figure that out," says NBCNews.com technology writer Bob Sullivan.
Per the settlement, Google does not have to admit any wrongdoing, and with revenues over $12-billion- in the second quarter of this year alone, google's $22-million fine may be more embarrassment than actual punishment.