FTC reportedly poised to spank Google with its largest penalty ever

Josh Peterson Tech Editor
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Google is nearing a $22.5 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission after it was discovered that the company tracked Apple users through its Safari browser.

The Wall Street Journal reported in February that the company was tracking Apple users through Safari, despite telling users that Safari’s privacy protections were sufficient to block any tracking by Google. Google allegedly used a special code to bypass Safari’s privacy protections.

Google said the tracking was inadvertent and has been discontinued. Google said the problem came from tracking cookies, or small Internet files that attach to a user’s Internet browser, that were from a help page on the company’s site.

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the fine is expected to be “the largest penalty ever levied on a single company” by the the FTC, although Google can rake in enough ad revenue to pay the fine in mere hours.

This is not the first time that Google has been spanked by the FTC.

Google agreed in October 2011 to undergo 20 years of independent audits and implement a strict privacy policy after the agency charged the company with engaging in deceptive practices and violating consumer privacy with the launch of its now-defunct social network Google Buzz.

The FTC said Google violated that agreement with Safari users.

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