Google has agreed to pay $17 million to 37 states to settle a suit over its unauthorized placement of cookies on computers using Apple Safari web browser in 2011 and 2012.
Safari is set by default to block third-party cookies, including those set by Google’s DoubleClick advertising platform. But from June 2011 through early 2012, Google circumvented the Safari privacy settings without the consent or knowledge of consumers. The company disabled its coding in February of 2012 when word about its Safari tracking was revealed on the Internet.
In addition to the cash settlement, Google agreed to:
- Not deploy the type of code used in this case to override a browser’s cookie blocking settings without the consumer’s consent unless it’s necessary to do so to address fraud, security, or technical issues
- Not misrepresent or omit material information to consumers about how they can manage how Google serves advertisements to their browsers
- Improve the information it gives consumers regarding cookies and how they are used by Google
- Maintain systems designed to ensure the expiration of the third-party cookies set on Safari Web browsers while their default settings had been circumvented
“By tracking millions of people without their knowledge, Google violated not only their privacy, but also their trust,” says New York Attorney General Schneiderman, whose state collected $900,000 in the settlement. “We must give consumers the reassurance that they can browse the Internet safely and securely.”