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Google to face $22.5m fine over Apple privacy violations

10 Jul 2012
Apple Safari logo

Google is set to pay a $22.5m to settle with the US Federal Trade Commission over allegations that its search engine ignored privacy settings on Apple devices, according to reports.

The search giant has agreed to pay the fine in order to settle charges that it bypassed security settings in Apple's Safari web browser, according to sources quoted by The Wall Street Journal.

The story, which hit the headlines back in February, relates to the Safari browser on both the OS X operating system for Mac computers and the iOS platform in the iPhone and iPad.

Researchers claimed to have found that Google was able to bypass privacy settings that would otherwise have blocked its search engine from tracking the users' web activity.

Google has denied any wrongdoing, and has maintained that its system was only checking whether Safari users were also signed into Google services.

"We set the highest standards of privacy and security for our users. The FTC is focused on a 2009 help centre page published more than two years before our consent decree, and a year before Apple changed its cookie-handling policy," the firm said in a statement.

"We have now changed that page and taken steps to remove the ad cookies, which collected no personal information, from Apple's browsers."

According to the WSJ, the settlement is awaiting approval by FTC officials, and could still be altered before it is officially announced.

However, the penalty is said to be the largest fine yet levied by the FTC.

The UK's Information Commissioner's Office is also investigating the apparent privacy breaches but has yet to publish its findings.

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Daniel Robinson

Daniel Robinson is technology editor at V3, and has been working as a technology journalist for over two decades. Dan has served on a number of publications including PC Direct and enterprise news publication IT Week. Areas of coverage include desktops, laptops, smartphones, enterprise mobility, storage, networks, servers, microprocessors, virtualisation and cloud computing.

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