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Judge Approves Google’s $22.5 million fine

Google had duped millions of internet users that used Safari into thinking their activities online were not tracked by Google

November 17, 2012 – A judge in San Francisco approved the fine of $22.5 million imposed against internet behemoth Google, Inc. for an alleged breach of privacy. The judge rejected the plea of a consumer rights group that asked for a heftier punishment.

Late Friday, Susan Illston, a U.S. District Judge approved the fine. The Judge gave her ruling only hours after a hearing for final arguments over the fine that is the cornerstone of the settlement Google reached with the Federal Trade Commission three months ago.

The fine revolved around allegations that were made that Google had duped millions of internet users that used Safari into thinking their activities online were not tracked by Google, as long as they left the privacy settings on the browser alone.

Earlier in the year, that assurance had been posted on their website, even as the search leader on the Internet was inserting coding that could bypass the automatic settings on Safari and thereby enabling the company to track the online activities of Safari’s users.

The FTC determined that Google’s privacy assurances were violated by its secretive tracking and fined the company. Google had previously promised it would not mislead users about is different privacy practices.

The FTC said its action proved it was protecting the interest of the public, an advocacy group for consumer rights attacked the agency’s settlement. The group said it was just an example of ineffective regulation. Consumer Watchdog, the consumers group, has tried to bring additional attention to this issue at the same time the FTC is wrapping up another investigation into many complaints about Google stifling competition and increasing ad prices for online to showcase its own products and services on its highly influential search engine.

However, Illston found that Google’s fine and the other parts of the settlement were adequate, reasonable and fair.

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