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November 19, 2012

US judge approves Google’s $22.5m privacy settlement with FTC

Settlement related to charges of bypassing the privacy settings of customers using Apple's Safari browser

By CBR Staff Writer

The US District Judge Susan Illston in San Francisco has approved $22.5m agreement with the US Federal Trade Commission to settle the privacy charges.

Earlier Google had signed the deal three months ago to settle the charges for allegedly bypassing the privacy settings of customers using Apple’s Safari browser.

Google was alleged to have changed Apple software’s privacy settings and planted cookies on the Safari browser to track the online behaviour of the users.

Advocacy group Consumer Watchdog was contending the settlement saying that the online search major was let off easily.

US District Judge Susan Illston however found that, "the proposed order is both procedurally and substantively fair, adequate and reasonable."

Google spokesman Niki Fenwick was quoted by Bloomberg as saying, "We’re glad the court agreed there was no merit to this challenge."

In February this year a Stanford University researcher had published a study claiming that Google had exploited a loophole in Safari browser.

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The tracking was said to be done through "cookies," that help Internet services and advertisers to offer marketing offers based on the analysis of the interests indicated by the users during Web surfing activity.

Google has already withdrawn the technology from Safari after the reports came out, and the under the terms of agreement Google will disable all the tracking cookies it had placed on the computers of Safari users and ensure all are gone by February 2014.

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