The largest fine ever levied against a company by the FTC has been drawn this week up against Google for their breach of Apple’s Safari web browser. The Internet giant was penalised for breaching the terms of consent Apple’s software privacy settings. Google has agreed to pay $22.5 million (£14.4 million) to settle charges that [...]

The largest fine ever levied against a company by the FTC has been drawn this week up against Google for their breach of Apple’s Safari web browser.


The Internet giant was penalised for breaching the terms of consent Apple’s software privacy settings.
Google has agreed to pay $22.5 million (£14.4 million) to settle charges that it misrepresented how users of Apple's Safari browser were having their Internet activity tracked.
According to the complaint, Google placed advertising cookies on the computers of Safari users who visited sites within Google's DoubleClick advertising network. Google, however, had wrongly told Safari users they would be opted out of such tracking thanks to Safari's default settings.
The search giant also said it was a member of the Network Advertising Initiative, which requires firms to disclose their data collection and use practices.
Google's actions, the FTC said, did not violate US law, but they did violate a March 2011 deal over Google's Buzz program that required Google to implement privacy safeguards, submit to regular audits, and banned it from future privacy misrepresentations. The deal was finalised in October.
FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said: “The record-setting penalty in this matter sends a clear message to all companies under an FTC privacy order. 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.”
At this point, Google has removed most of the offending cookies, but the company has until 15 February, 2014 to remove them all, the FTC said.
The FTC’s previous largest penalty pushed to a company was against a data broker by the name of ChoicePoint Inc. in 2006 for $10 million in civil penalties and $5 million in consumer redress.
The FTC is also currently in settlement talks on privacy allegations with MySpace, Twitter, and Facebook.
Read the FTC statement in full here