Google to Pay Record Fine in Privacy Case

by InvestorPlace Staff | August 10, 2012 11:18 am

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG[1]) will pay $22.5 million to settle accusations that it deceitfully tracked the internet activity of Apple‘s (NASDAQ:AAPL[2]) Safari users, the Federal Trade Commission announced Thursday. The deal marks the largest fine for a civil transgression in FTC history.

The settlement stems from Google’s promise to Safari users that it would only track their web activity if they changed their settings to allow it. Meanwhile, Google continued to place cookies on sites within its advertising network DoubleClick.

While this tracking was not a violation of U.S. law, it does go against an FTC agreement from March 2011 in which Google foreswore privacy misrepresentations of this kind. In agreeing to the fine, Google has not conceded any wrongdoing.

The fine comes in the midst of a second, unrelated FTC investigation into the possibility that Google has been using its dominance as a search engine to drive up ad prices and to promote its own products and services over those of competitors. In the past, Google’s founders have cited the company’s slogan, “Don’t Be Evil,” to explain the importance of avoiding other forms of conflicts of interest.

The search giant and the regulator have clashed repeatedly this year. The FTC fined Google $25,000 in April[3] for impeding an investigation into whether Google had collected personal data from unprotected Wi-Fi networks.

Ryan Hauck, InvestorPlace

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