The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) may fine Google millions for hacking past a key privacy setting on iPhones and iPads using Apple’s Safari web browser. The Commission is reportedly analyzing the matter to determine how big the fine should be.
placed tracking cookies on iOS, the underlying software of Apple's iPhones and iPads, “and then lied, saying the settings were still effective,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project director.
In a report issued by Consumer Watchdog this week, Simpson said “I am delighted the FTC appears ready to take strong action against an obvious violation of Google’s promises to honor users’ privacy in its ‘Buzz’ Consent Decree with the Commission.”
The organization estimates that Google may end up being fined millions of dollars Under the terms of the consent decree - up to $16,000 per violation per day.
The group cites an unidentified source talking to Bloomberg as saying the fine could amount to more than $10 million.
Citing a study released Feb. 17 by Jonathan Mayer of Stanford University's Security Lab, and the Center for Internet and Society, Consumer Watchdog says it was discovered that “Google has been circumventing a privacy setting in Apple's Safari web browser.”
“Like most web browsers, Safari provides the option not to receive third-party ‘cookies’,” the report explains. “Cookies are small bits of code placed on the browser and can be used by ad networks to track you as you surf the web. Blocking third-party cookies is supposed to prevent such tracking.”
Consumer Watchdog outlines that “Safari is the primary browser on the iPhone and iPad. It is also the default browser on Apple's computers.”
Jonathan Mayer's study (available here
) also found that three other companies -- Vibrant Media Inc., WPP PLC's Media Innovation Group LLC and Gannett Co.'s PointRoll Inc. -- could be held accountable for similar practices.