Google fined $22.5m for DNT abuse

Google has been slapped with a record $22.5m (£14.4m) fine in the US after it “inadvertently” monitored Apple Safari browser users even though they had a “do not track” privacy setting selected.
The fine, issued by the US Federal Trade Commission, is for misrepresenting what it was doing, not for the methods Google used to bypass Safari’s privacy settings. According to the settlement, Google does not have to admit any wrongdoing.
The FTC launched an investigation after a Stanford University researcher reported that Google was bypassing browser privacy settings. Google was found to be exploiting a loophole that allowed it to install monitoring cookies on computers through ads placed on websites.
This allowed the search giant to track browsing habits without permission, but Google claimed no personal information had been collected.
Google claimed the action had been “inadvertent”, despite the fact that it added code to some of its online ads to make it appear to Safari that the user had made an exception for its cookie.
Big Brother Watch director Nick Pickles welcomed the move. He said: “It’s an essential part of a properly functioning market that consumers are in control of their personal information and are able to take steps to protect their privacy.
“The size of the fine in this case should deter any company from seeking to exploit underhand means of tracking consumers.”
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