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Cookies Cost Google $17M

27 Nov, 2013 By: Doug McPherson

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – Google will pay $17 million in fines to 37 states and the District of Columbia for “unauthorized placement of cookies on computers using Apple Safari Web browsers during 2011 and 2012.”

“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,” said New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who originally brought the case against Google. “We must give consumers the reassurance that they can browse the internet safely and securely.”

This isn’t new territory for Google. In November 2012, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Google reached an agreement where Google paid a $22.5 million fine for the breach after Safari users sued, claiming a violation of privacy rights.

While the latest settlement prevents other states from pressing charges against Google, the search giant agreed to several terms as part of it:

  • Not to deploy code to override a browser’s cookie blocking settings without the consumer’s consent unless it is necessary to do so in order to detect, prevent or otherwise address fraud, security or technical issues.
  • Not to misrepresent or omit information to consumers about how they can use any particular Google product, service, or tool to directly manage how Google serves advertisements to their browsers.
  • Improve the information it gives consumers regarding cookies, their purpose, and how the cookies are managed by consumers using Google’s products or services and tools.
  • Maintain systems designed to ensure expiration of the third-party cookies set on Safari Web browsers while their default settings had been circumvented.

Online news source Redorbit reports Web browsers are seeking an alternative to cookies. Microsoft is developing other methods to track consumers and the solution will have the added benefit of following consumers across multiple devices such as computers, smartphones and tablets. One solution involves device fingerprinting, which will also have the ability to track users across devices.

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