Google close to paying US$22.5m over Safari privacy charge

10 Jul 2012

Google is understood to be close to making a US$22.5m settlement with the Federal Trade Commission following claims it breached the privacy settings of millions of Apple Safari users.

In what is understood to be one of the largest penalties levied by the FTC against a single company, Google was accused of using a code to track Safari users’ browsing habits despite the users activating a tool to prevent tracking.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Google has disabled the offending code.

The settlement is awaiting approval by FTC commissioners.

The practice of tracking Safari users without their consent is understood to have triggered an investigation into whether Google violated a 20-year consent decree it signed with the FTC last year.

The penalty for violating the agreement amounts to US$16,000 a day.

If the US$22.5m fine is paid, it amounts to the amount of revenue that Google makes every five hours – a drop in the ocean.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years