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Google fined £14 million after monitoring web surfers using Apple’s Safari browser

By Hamish Mackay |

August 10, 2012 | 2 min read

Google has agreed to pay the largest fine ever imposed on a single company by the US Federal Trade Commission.

The firm will pay $22.5m (£14.4m) after monitoring web surfers using Apple's Safari browser who had a "do not track" privacy setting selected.

As part of the settlement, the search giant will not be forced to admit wrong doing, the BBC has reported.

“The penalty is for misrepresenting what it was doing and not for the methods it used to bypass Safari's tracker cookie settings.”

"No matter how big or small, all companies must abide by FTC orders against them and keep their privacy promises to consumers, or they will end up paying many times what it would have cost to comply in the first place,” commented FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz.

The inquiry began after a researcher at Stanford University highlight his concerns following a targeted advertising study, where he realised that Google was exploiting a loophole which allowed its cookies to be installed through adverts running on popular websites.

A code was added to the adverts to prevent the company’s cookies being blocked, leading the Apple’s Safari browser to believe that the user had given permission for the cookies to be installed, and track the user.

According to the BBC, Google did not obtain any personal information through the process.

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