Judge Approves FTC’s $22.5M Fine to Google For Safari Tracking

Google has to pay the $22.5 million fine for an alleged privacy breach, a US Federal Judge Susan Illston ruled late Friday, rejecting a consumer rights group’s request for a tougher punishment, the Associated Press reports

Safari Privacy settings

The $22.5 million fine was part of the agreement the search giant reached with the Federal Trade Commission a couple months ago. Google ended up under fire due to its privacy breach where the search giant mislead million of web surfers using Apple’s built-in Safari browser. It claimed their online activities could not be tracked by the company, if they left the browser’s default privacy settings set to “Ask websites not to track me”. The search giant — which as you may already know earns most of its revenue from ads — even posted this info on its website earlier this year. Instead of keeping its word, it injected a code that helped it bypass Safari’s automatic settings and enabled the company to have an inside look of user’s browsing activity.

After investigating the issue, FTC concluded that Google violated an agreement it made in another settlement with the agency in 2011, in which the search giant promised not to do it again.

Yet the settlement was attacked by Consumer Watchdog, which tried to raise awareness on Google’s practices. The federal judge rejected the consumer-rights group’s appeal and found that the FTC settlement is “fair, adequate and reasonable.”

“In the Safari case, Consumer Watchdog argued that the fine amounts to loose change for a company like Google, which generates about $22.5 million in revenue every four hours. In legal briefs, Reback asserted that Google should be fined at least $3 billion because of the number of people potentially affected. The FTC estimates about 190 million people use Safari to browse the Web on computers, smartphones and tablets made by Google’s rival Apple Inc. But the agency said the impact of Google’s breach was relatively small, estimating the company picked up about $4 million in revenue from the intrusion”, the AP article informs.

Can you believe Google’s promise: forgive me, my lord; it won’t happen again?