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Google Fined $22.5M Over Safari Privacy Violation

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the pay-the-man dept.

Google 118

wiredmikey writes "The US Federal Trade Commission fined Google $22.5 million for violating the privacy of people who used rival Apple's Safari web browser even after pledging not to do so. The FTC said Google had agreed with the commission in October 2011 not to place tracking cookies on or deliver targeted ads to Safari users, but then went ahead and did so. 'For several months in 2011 and 2012, Google placed a certain advertising tracking cookie on the computers of Safari users who visited sites within Google's DoubleClick advertising network,' the FTC said in a statement. 'Google had previously told these users they would automatically be opted out of such tracking.' While Google agreed to the fine, it did NOT admit it had violated the earlier agreement."

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What a pittance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40939061)

So about .06% of their annual revenue. I'm sure Google is suffering mighty over this puny "fine".

Re:What a pittance (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | more than 2 years ago | (#40944161)

The CEO just stuck his hand down the back of the couch in his office.

Re:What a pittance (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 2 years ago | (#40944615)

That's a minor fine, a little higher than a parking ticket and lower than a speeding ticket for us average people (.06%)

But Google isn't evil. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40939063)

They're just rich.

hmmm... (3, Interesting)

slashmydots (2189826) | more than 2 years ago | (#40939065)

Now if only they'd fine Apple for installing Safari as a trojan semi-silently in the background while calling it an iTunes update on the surface. That's illegal about a dozen different ways.

Re:hmmm... (2, Insightful)

Desler (1608317) | more than 2 years ago | (#40939085)

Semi-silently? The text explicitly tells you it's installing Safari and gives you a checkbox to not install it. What exactly is illegal?

Re:hmmm... (4, Insightful)

slashmydots (2189826) | more than 2 years ago | (#40939347)

The titlebar of the update app saying "iTunes Software Updates." That isn't what it is.

No, it says "Apple Software Update" (2, Insightful)

kiwimate (458274) | more than 2 years ago | (#40940695)

"Semi-silently"? What, kind of like a stealth aircraft that, umm, isn't really particularly stealthy?

The dialog is clearly split - top half, iTunes, bottom half, other stuff. I uncheck it. It clearly states, right up front, that it's optional. Easy.

And the titlebar at this point says "Apple Software Update". Once you choose to go ahead and install iTunes, then it will say iTunes updates, which I think sounds alarmingly sensible, quite honestly.

iTunes is a dreadful, dreadful piece of software on Windows. But you're flat out fabricating stories, and that's not fair.

Re:No, it says "Apple Software Update" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40941553)

That how it works AFTER people complained. Originally Safari was in the same box as iTunes and checked by default. Like this:

http://blog.gordaen.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/quicktime_update2.jpg

Re:No, it says "Apple Software Update" (1)

Plumpaquatsch (2701653) | more than 2 years ago | (#40943479)

That how it works AFTER people complained. Originally Safari was in the same box as iTunes and checked by default. Like this:

http://blog.gordaen.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/quicktime_update2.jpg

But unlike for the third party crap that seems to be installed now with every updater (*) on Windows, by default it is disabled for quite some time now.

(*) the checkbox is always hidden in the graphics of the second to last pop-up window of the installer, or on the webpage somewhere far from the install-button. Adobe updates, Java updates, even WinSCP (IIRC) updates try to force some third-party dreck on me.

Re:No, it says "Apple Software Update" (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | more than 2 years ago | (#40944181)

You must be using the wrong updaters - neither Adobe nor Java attempt to install third party shite. Not the ones I've used anyway.

Re:hmmm... (1)

Plumpaquatsch (2701653) | more than 2 years ago | (#40943391)

The titlebar of the update app saying "iTunes Software Updates." That isn't what it is.

AFAIK the program has always been called "Apple Software Update". And the the checkbox to install Safari has been disabled by default for over three years now.

Not that it matters now that Safari for Windows is dead.

Re:hmmm... (1)

gagol (583737) | more than 2 years ago | (#40939111)

That is the reason iTunes got out of my computers aeons ago.

Re:hmmm... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40939299)

You mean the checkbox in plain sight that you can simply un-check, and not install Safari? I'm not sure how that is a trojan or semi-silent or in the background.

Google installs the auto-update spyware with Earth without any option to disable it, unless you know to get the "advanced" installer. Now that is a trojan! Removing the updater is not exactly easy either.

Re:hmmm... (3, Insightful)

Teckla (630646) | more than 2 years ago | (#40940489)

You mean the checkbox in plain sight that you can simply un-check, and not install Safari?

You know, I always used to look down on people the same way you are now. For years and years.

Until, one fateful day, I did not pay enough attention to an Adobe Reader update. It installed Google Chrome. I guess I missed an opt-out checkbox somewhere along the way. (Unless it was a 100% stealth install? I guess that's possible.)

Ever since that happened, I no longer look down on people the same way like that. I think an out-opt default, when we are talking about installing brand new software (not updates), is just plain wrong for companies to do. In my opinion, new software installs should always be opt-in.

It's just the right thing to do.

Re:hmmm... (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#40946109)

It's just the right thing to do.

Which doesn't matter a bit to the sociopaths that run these big corporations.

Re:hmmm... (0, Troll)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#40939353)

Congratulations! I knew someone would try to turn this story about Google's wrongdoing into a rant about Apple eventually - but you pulled it off right at the top of the whole discussion!

Well done!

Re:hmmm... (1)

Kergan (780543) | more than 2 years ago | (#40939407)

Meh, this is slashdot! It would be a dead site if not for Apple/Google flame warriors.

Re:hmmm... (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | more than 2 years ago | (#40939611)

I'm not too thrilled with either of them. Does that make me an independent? lol. You seem to have forgotten that...when God created the Earth, he did not intend for people to argue over which company was better :-P Aaaaand cue Flame WWIII.

Re:hmmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40939721)

Hey, you forgot to end with a statement like "Besides, we all know Windows is the best" or something equally likely to get slashdotters into a lather.

Re:hmmm... (-1, Troll)

slashmydots (2189826) | more than 2 years ago | (#40939595)

Congratulations! I knew some Apple fanboy would try and turn this comment about Apple wrongdoing into a rant about how Apple isn't in the wrong for dumping Safari on everyone - but you came right out of that troll cave and did it.

Re:hmmm... (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40943225)

There are lots of stories when it's on-topic to post about Apple's wrongdoings. This story is for posting about Google's. Let's not be partisan here, we can spend enough time flaming both. And probably even Microsoft if they ever manage to do something relevant again...

Re:hmmm... (1)

Ash Vince (602485) | more than 2 years ago | (#40944599)

There are lots of stories when it's on-topic to post about Apple's wrongdoings. This story is for posting about Google's. Let's not be partisan here, we can spend enough time flaming both. And probably even Microsoft if they ever manage to do something relevant again...

Actually, Apple does have a part to play in this too. They chose to select a default setting under the guise of "protecting users privacy" that was actually more about hurting a competitor. Microsoft have just done exactly the same thing. Neither of these two companies give two shits about users privacy, they just want to hurt Google by any means necessary. Apple just love tracking users on the iphone in application adverts, I recall. Microsoft will probably build some sort of tracking crap or something into Bing or Windows 8 or whatever.

That is not to say Google did not utterly screw up here by trying to circumvent this setting as a great many users did actively want that ticked and probably were quite happy when they found it buried in the options page and noticed it was ticked for them. Most sheeple though would be none the wiser, and those people are the ones Apple and Microsoft are now determined to prevent Google from tracking in order to hurt Googles revenues and limit the amount they can throw into crazy projects like Android that are hurting them.

This is a just a stupid corporate war with us as pawns in the middle. Neither side really gives a shit about us, they just want two things:

Firstly, they want to get as much of our money as they can.
Secondly, they want to discourage our money from going to their biggest competitors.

It is slightly more complicated with Google as they do not get their money from us directly but they are still reliant on our eyeballs viewing their ads so it is not actually that different. Less eyeballs, or less effective eyeball tracking still hurts them as much as selling fewer iPhones hurts Apple.

Re:hmmm... (1)

Plumpaquatsch (2701653) | more than 2 years ago | (#40943511)

Congratulations! I knew some Google fanboy would try and turn this thread about Google wrongdoing into a rant about how Apple is in the wrong for dumping Safari on everyone - despite not doing that for over three years now.

Re:hmmm... (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40939441)

It isn't illegal if they tell you Safari is also being installed. Software companies have been doing this stuff for over a decade now. (Maybe Apple will let us download the whole OS X too. That would be sweet.)

Re:hmmm... (0)

slashmydots (2189826) | more than 2 years ago | (#40939631)

if Ford put in a GPS tracking device in your car but called it an update/recall despite it having nothing to do with the operation of the product they sold you, they'd be arrested.

Re:hmmm... (2)

JoelKatz (46478) | more than 2 years ago | (#40940113)

It's a bit bogus to compare something that breaks US law to something that doesn't break US law.

Re:hmmm... (1, Insightful)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#40940775)

Unless they asked your permission and only installed the GPS after you authorized it -- like Apple did.

Re:hmmm... (1)

Truedat (2545458) | more than 2 years ago | (#40943655)

Yep, because that's the story here, right?

Why so little? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40939099)

Google's profit is in the billions! How exactly is 22.5 million justice? Its just the price of doing business, and I bet they still made a profit.

Re:Why so little? (2)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 2 years ago | (#40939709)

Google's profit is in the billions! How exactly is 22.5 million justice?

Well, given the contribution of what was alleged to Google's profits, the $22.5 million is probably way too much for any kind of justice. But that's pretty much beside the point when it comes to an out of court settlement. What it is probably more relevant is that it is both:

  • more than (the net amount the FTC would be likely to make stick through administrative process and appeals) times (the probability of the FTC prevailing) minus (the cost the FTC would bear if it failed) * (the probability of the FTC losing) and
  • less than (the net amount that Google would have had to pay in fines and costs if it lost) times (the probability of the FTC prevailing) plus (the costs Google would bear if the FTC failed) times (the probability of the FTC failing).

Hence, the settlement with no admission of liability. It's win-win for everyone except the lawyers, etc., who would make money from extended litigation.

Re:Why so little? (1)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#40940787)

Funny how only corporations get offered deals like that.

Re:Why so little? (1)

BronsCon (927697) | more than 2 years ago | (#40941129)

RIAA Vict^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^HMusic pirates get similar offers, actually.

Not admitting? (4, Funny)

wealthychef (584778) | more than 2 years ago | (#40939105)

Only a lawyer can imagine a world where a person agrees to paying a 22.5 million dollar fine and then can seriously claim they did nothing wrong.

Re:Not admitting? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40939233)

Only a lawyer can imagine a world where a person agrees to paying a 22.5 million dollar fine and then can seriously claim they did nothing wrong.

Not only did lawyers imagine such a world, they have created it. How many times do you hear of a company that gets bullied by a larger company and agrees to pay money to make the bully go away--even when the smaller company is clearly in the right--because paying the bully to go away is less expensive than fighting and winning against it in court?

Re:Not admitting? (2, Insightful)

Kergan (780543) | more than 2 years ago | (#40939281)

The thought of Google paying Apple to make it stop bullying it gave me a good laugh.

Re:Not admitting? (2)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 2 years ago | (#40939739)

The thought of Google paying Apple to make it stop bullying it gave me a good laugh.

Either this is posted in the wrong thread, or you have confused Apple with the US Government, which was the party with whom Google settled in this case.

Re:Not admitting? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40939875)

Does it really make that much of a difference? Doesn't the US governement have less cash in the bank than Apple?

Re:Not admitting? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40939901)

Does it really make that much of a difference? Doesn't the US governement have less cash in the bank than Apple?

The US government has less cash in the bank than anyone, so that's not saying much.

Re:Not admitting? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40941845)

It's ok. The aspy-types at Google don't actually like dealing with people and arent so skilled with making actual big-boy decisions, like where to eat lunch. It's not surprising they'd read three words of the article and start some thread about how Apple is mean when Apple had nothing to do with the suit, other than being an aggrieved party.

Re:Not admitting? (2)

John Jorsett (171560) | more than 2 years ago | (#40939849)

How many times do you hear of a company that gets bullied by a larger company and agrees to pay money to make the bully go away--even when the smaller company is clearly in the right--because paying the bully to go away is less expensive than fighting and winning against it in court?

Not just among companies, either. California has a litigation industry built around demanding settlements from small businesses under the Americans With Disabilities Act. Give them $5K and they'll go away. Fight it and it'll cost you several times that. So most of them settle, even when the alleged infraction is a crock. There was one case locally where a law firm wrote demand letters to every business in a small town near San Diego, at least some of which it could be proven the plaintiff could not possibly have entered because the businesses had been closed for weeks, or had gone out of business long before the date contained in the complaint.

Re:Not admitting? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40939945)

Only a lawyer can imagine a world where a person agrees to paying a 22.5 million dollar fine and then can seriously claim they did nothing wrong.

Not only did lawyers imagine such a world, they have created it. How many times do you hear of a company that gets bullied by a larger company and agrees to pay money to make the bully go away--even when the smaller company is clearly in the right--because paying the bully to go away is less expensive than fighting and winning against it in court?

In Florida, if you are accused of running a red light that has a camera at it, you can either pay small fine, or pay a *much* larger fine and try to fight it in court. I imagine many people in Florida would rather just pay the smaller fine and let it go, even if they are not guilty.

Re:Not admitting? (1)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#40940803)

Not in a game-theoretic analysis.

Re:Not admitting? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40939277)

Yet we hired a lawyer for president.

Re:Not admitting? (1)

Lando (9348) | more than 2 years ago | (#40939719)

President doesn't make laws, typically. Congress does and since most candidates running for office are lawyers, I don't think there is much choice since you can either vote for member A or B, throw you vote away on C or not vote. Biggest issue I see is no accountability by our elected officials, but that's a different issue.

Re:Not admitting? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40939783)

That should tell you how sick we were of the previous guy. On a more realistic note 25/44 have been lawyers.

Re:Not admitting? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40939313)

My first question is, where does this money go? Also, had it been a small startup would the fines have been so exorbitant?

Re:Not admitting? (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40939333)

It's called a settlement, which saves the court's time-and-energy avoiding a long battle. 11 years ago the CD Cartel (record companies) did the same thing when they agreed to refund $25 to all 1990-to-2001 CD purchasers, in order to end the litigation immediately. They also admitted no wrongdoing.

Re:Not admitting? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40940429)

That's because they DIDN'T do anything wrong.

These people specifically authorized Google, on an account level, to do this. Then their browser came in and said not to. Google listened to what the user said instead of what the browser said, and they got in trouble for it.

Re:Not admitting? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40941763)

"I didn't do it, and I'll never do it again."

Google does no evil (4, Insightful)

Yakasha (42321) | more than 2 years ago | (#40939123)

But remember, evil is subjective.

Re:Google does no evil (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40939163)

Google does no evil is a declarative statement, not a descriptive one. If Google does it, it wasn't evil.

Re:Google does no evil (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40939397)

>>>If Google does it, it wasn't evil.

Sounds like our drone policy. Or Richard Nixon. "If the dead person was in the combat area, he or she is not an innocent victim. They are terrorists. Therefore we have a zero civilian casualty rate." Even the little kids were terrorists? "Yes."

"If the president does it, it's not a crime." - Nixon.

Re:Google does no evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40940035)

Google does no evil is a declarative statement, not a descriptive one. If Google does it, it wasn't evil.

"Don't be evil" (the actual motto) is a statement of intent.

Google does no evil * (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#40939367)

* For sufficiently narrow definitions of "evil".

Re:Google does no evil (1)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 2 years ago | (#40940139)

Also there are grey shades.

Re:Google does no evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40943047)

Google does know evil.

There fixed that for ya.

Re:Google does no evil (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40943253)

That's not the (unofficial) motto. The actual phrasing is 'don't be evil'. The crusaders and many other groups before and after committed atrocities that were fine because they weren't evil, they were just doing evil things in the cause of good. On a more mundane scale, it's easy to say that you do more good than evil and therefore you aren't being evil. Do no evil is a much stronger requirement than don't be evil.

IE 10 potential fine? (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#40939153)

Yesterday, it was posted that IE 10 will have Do Not Track by default turned on [slashdot.org] by default.

Does that mean Google can be fined if it ignores the users' request for the Do Not Track? What is the difference between this and Safari? I wonder because the comments in that story suggested that website operators can use it an an opt in and ignore it otherwise. I wonder if it would then be a liability to do so?

Re:IE 10 potential fine? (2)

slashmydots (2189826) | more than 2 years ago | (#40939641)

I don't think Google "said" they would honor it. I think they actually said they wouldn't. They're being sued over the Safari thing because they said they wouldn't track people using it then did anyway. So mostly the fine is for lying, not the tracking.

Re:IE 10 potential fine? (2)

JoelKatz (46478) | more than 2 years ago | (#40940177)

Right, but they said they wouldn't because EU law required them to -- a law that would be unconstitutional (violating the first Amendment) if it was a US law. So why is the US enforcing such a law?

As a somewhat absurd hypothetical, consider if Iran passed a law that a company can't do business with Iran if they hire any Jews. Some company really wants to do business with Iran, so as Iranian law requires, they say they won't hire any Jews. Then the United States government gets a tip that this company has hired a few Jews, investigates, and fines the company. Does that seem like something the US should be doing?

Re:IE 10 potential fine? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40941983)

They promised the US FTC they wouldn't track people on Safari, then did it anyway. That's totally US jurisdiction.

Re:IE 10 potential fine? (3, Insightful)

tooyoung (853621) | more than 2 years ago | (#40940665)

No, Google is not being sued for lying. They are being sued for purposely circumventing a privacy control via what could be called a hack. Now, you can blame Apple for the fact that this hack was possible, but do you not blame the party who purposely circumvented the mechanism? If I can find a way to circumvent your computer's security mechanism, would you only blame the OS manufacturer, or would you be upset that I broke in?

Re:IE 10 potential fine? (1)

Kilz (741999) | more than 2 years ago | (#40945273)

No, Google is not being sued for lying. They are being sued for purposely circumventing a privacy control via what could be called a hack. Now, you can blame Apple for the fact that this hack was possible, but do you not blame the party who purposely circumvented the mechanism? If I can find a way to circumvent your computer's security mechanism, would you only blame the OS manufacturer, or would you be upset that I broke in?

The problem is that Webkit, the engine that Safari uses, told people how to do this in a bug report. Google didnt "hack" anything, the developers placed the ability to do it in the code.

https://bugs.webkit.org/show_bug.cgi?id=35824 [webkit.org]

Re:IE 10 potential fine? (2)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 2 years ago | (#40940029)

Because the Safari settings wasn't just 'asking' not to be tracked, but rather was supposed to prevent cookies from being placed by 3rd parties (essentially web sites you hadn't directly visited). What google did was to simulate a fake form submission to this third party site in order to set a cookie.

Not similar at all to the honor system 'do not track' setting.

Re:IE 10 potential fine? (1)

Ash Vince (602485) | more than 2 years ago | (#40944735)

Because the Safari settings wasn't just 'asking' not to be tracked, but rather was supposed to prevent cookies from being placed by 3rd parties (essentially web sites you hadn't directly visited). What google did was to simulate a fake form submission to this third party site in order to set a cookie.

Not similar at all to the honor system 'do not track' setting.

Some AC in this thread has posted that google only did this when the user had a Google and account and had ticked the box saying there did not mind being tracked. If that is true it does make things slightly less clear cut as to their wrong doing, especially being that Apple just blindly applied this setting to every users broswer with asking them.

I have to admit though, I knew they did this as it broke the website I work on and it caused me a whole shit load of hassle so I am very biased. We provide an elearning solution that is often embedded in another companies site via an iframe. We only do this when the other party can't manage to use a web services approach we prefer. Obviously this requires a cookie to be stored on the users PC so that after the initial authentication has happened the iframe can navigate around without having to pass around the authentication token. It's not perfect but it is only a fallback. Apple broke this solution overnight without providing an easy way to add an exemption for certain trusted sites, thanks for that. (Cue lots of retards saying we should never have done it this way, your right, we should have told customers to go away and that we did not want their business if they could not get their heads around WSDL which was dominant at the time)

Re:IE 10 potential fine? (1)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 2 years ago | (#40944893)

If such was the case, the proper corse from google would have been to notify the user so they could visit the third party site, or inform them how to disable the setting. Hacking around it and as a result forcing all users to be tracked isn't a good answer.

The easy fix would to be a button the user could click to submit a real user initiated form to the site in question, hence no longer making it a 3rd Party Site :)

Business as usual (2)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 2 years ago | (#40939195)

Step 1: Get caught doing something shitty
Step 2: Promise to the regulators that it won't happen again
GO TO Step 1

Re:Business as usual (1)

TDUdude (2704273) | more than 2 years ago | (#40941773)

Don't forget the other 2 steps. After your step one but in the mix somewhere would be: > Make $200 million ... or billion > Pay $22.5 million in fines > Count the money while laughing all the way to the bank hoping for another gov fine deal like that again!! YEAH!!! GO TO Step one again? ;-)

Re:Business as usual (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40943285)

While $22.5m isn't much in comparison to Google's total profits, I wouldn't be surprised if it's more than they made as a result of this particular issue. It only affected users who use Safari, have a Google account, and have the privacy setting enabled, and even then it only allows them to collect marginally more data than normal, so it's not clear how valuable that extra data is. That said, a perhaps more fitting punishment would have been to require them to delete all personally identifying information about the users that they tracked, rather than a fine.

22.5 Million dollar fine for hacking my phone.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40939249)

I am patiently awaiting my check.....

Re:22.5 Million dollar fine for hacking my phone.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40939263)

Oh...wait....they hack my phone, and the government gets to keep the money????? Something wrong here.

What is so special about Safari users? (1)

epp_b (944299) | more than 2 years ago | (#40939289)

What is so special about Safari users that would entitle them to be treated any differently than users of any other browser?

Re:What is so special about Safari users? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40939345)

Safari included an off-by-default feature that prevented the sort of tracking that Google was doing, but Google found a way to bypass it. Using workarounds to track users that don't want to be tracked is pretty messed up.

Re:What is so special about Safari users? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40939351)

What is so special about Safari users that would entitle them to be treated any differently than users of any other browser?

The privacy defaults. Other browsers allow to track you by default,

Re:What is so special about Safari users? (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | more than 2 years ago | (#40939663)

The fact that (TFA quote): "Google had previously told these users they would automatically be opted out of such tracking." Actually that's from TF summary.

Google's side of the story (1)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 2 years ago | (#40939295)

I don't remember the details, but wasn't this a little more nuanced then just Google straight-up lying?

Also, and I'm not trying to defend Google if they did lie about this or whatever, but I think a lot of the crap over cookies is popular media sideshow scare stuff. It (in this case, I believe) doesn't identify individual users and anyway people can generally be tracked by IP and sessions and other stuff.

Re:Google's side of the story (2)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#40939609)

I want to be able to log in! But I don't want any stateful information stored outside the stateless protocols!

I want to have a browser that makes exceptions to just outright disallowing 3rd party cookies, but I want revenge when those exceptions backfire!

Re:Google's side of the story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40940207)

If I want to log in to Yelp, why would I want Google to store a cookie on my machine that lets them know I've been there?

Lets flip it around...Why would Google go through so many hoops to track someone who explicitly told them that they didn't want to be tracked?

Re:Google's side of the story (2)

DontLickJesus (1141027) | more than 2 years ago | (#40941609)

You are absolutely right, they didn't lie. As a matter of fact, they didn't even commit the crime. Google used a feature, bug, whatever, offered by Safari, to allow logged in users to use a opt-in service. The real problem is that they left the door open, which allowed for other advertisers to piggy-back off their cookie. I feel the fine is appropriately sized, but now I want to know when the government is going after those that piggybacked. I guarantee Google has that information.

Are they All evil? (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40939297)

Microsoft, Apple, Google, Comcast, VerizonWireless, .....

Silly me I thought when you said, "I won't do it anymore," that meant you'd stop. That doesn't seem to apply to the things called corporations.

Re:Are they All evil? (1)

Lando (9348) | more than 2 years ago | (#40939795)

Well, in truth how many times do engineers pour over the court documents that the lawyers develop while in court? Pretty simple to miss something occasionally, I'm not convinced that Google has just decided to flip the bird to all it's users and the court system yet. In comparison to the people that are "too smart" to get caught or too powerful for the courts to do anything to.

Re:Are they All evil? (1)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#40940841)

They're all corporations so they will all do whatever maximizes profit whether or not it's legal or moral.

Typical Corporate Response (2)

dave562 (969951) | more than 2 years ago | (#40939413)

"We'll pay your fine... not because we are wrong, but because it.... 'costs too much' to prove that we didn't really do anything wrong."

I see that Google has grown large enough and been around long enough to attract high priced, high powered legal council. Good for them. They are a true corporation now.

They just need to take the final step of setting up the revolving door between themselves and Washington DC and they will truly be in the big leagues.

I Block Doubleclick (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40939845)

I have doubleclick DNS entries mapped to a local web server that returns 404s. It solves the conflict of interest problem with google and doubleclick for me.

Had this been Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40939893)

It would have been 22 billion...

Re:Had this been Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40939933)

And then when the EU catches hold of it, they would also want their 'fair share' to help by back Greece.

We knew how to handle this in 1940 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40940067)

There's a reason we had a stomach-kick not wrist slap and promises philosophy to regulating corporations. They were smart enough to know that businesses would run cost benefit analyses and risk eating a puny fine. No doubt that google got their moneysworth out of this little bit of deception.

Of course in New America anything that might hurt company profits has to be bad for America

why is Google getting more attention than MSFT did (1)

AnAlchemist (1703640) | more than 2 years ago | (#40940193)

I'm not critiquing the reasons why Google is getting so much federal government attention. I'm just wondering why Google is going so much more attention from the FTC than Microsoft ever did. Maybe my memory is too short, but I don't remember MSFT getting many fines. Anybody have a (real) answer?

Re:why is Google getting more attention than MSFT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40940521)

Lol are you serious? You don't remember the threat of a $1billion fine because some wankers on the other side of the pond cried that they weren't spoon fed a browser choice screen at windows startup? Browser choice is obviously more important than privacy information here.

Re:why is Google getting more attention than MSFT (1)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#40940821)

Because the Google fine was just announced. That means it's news today.

Re:why is Google getting more attention than MSFT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40941605)

Your memory is just too short.

The purpose of the law (2)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | more than 2 years ago | (#40940899)

This has been long forgotten by the people who oversee the court system, but the purpose of the law is "to moderate human behaviour."

Such a petty fine against such an incredibly wealthy company will do nothing to moderate their behaviour. To make it worse, Google is openly engaged in large scale tax evasion/avoidance. In the UK last year out of £224 million in taxes they only paid a pitfull £6 million. A fine of £14 million is pocket money to them - just operating overhead. If the government wants to moderate Google's behaviour (besides just pretending to want to) then they would fine them far, far more.

PS. In the words of Willard Mitt Romney, "Corporations are people too, my friend!"

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2125883/Amazon-Google-sordid-reality-tax-avoidance.html
http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2012/08/09/is-google-avoiding-or-evading-taxes-in-the-uk/ [forbes.com]

Proportional to the offense (1)

aNonnyMouseCowered (2693969) | more than 2 years ago | (#40941595)

"A fine of £14 million is pocket money to them - just operating overhead. If the government wants to moderate Google's behaviour (besides just pretending to want to) then they would fine them far, far more."

A fine thought, however, think of the consequences of say fining Google a £/$1 billion for an offense that hasn't harmed much less killed any kittens. This would jack up the liabilities of companies that do real harm like an oil spill or a nuclear radiation leak. So what do your propose? A government takeover since there's no way such a company can pay a multitrillion £/$ fine?

I say fine the company a fair amount but then order them to fix the problem and repair the damages along with a threat for more drastic action if it fails to implement the court order. This is besides making good on the actual damages including sickness/lost revenue/etc, which are a separate matter.

You can't modify human behavior if you send every offender to death or condemn businesses to a similar fate for offenses that don't merit such harsh treatment.

Re:The purpose of the law (1)

Shrike82 (1471633) | more than 2 years ago | (#40944975)

To make it worse, Google is openly engaged in large scale tax evasion/avoidance.

Just to nitpick (a.k.a. correct your misleading comment) evasion and avoidance are two totally separate things. One is illegal. The other is not. If you are aware that Google are evading tax then you should inform the taxation authorities in the relevant countries and become the hero of many an anti-Google fanboy.

Google are known to be avoiding tax, and to many people (including me) that smacks of immoral behaviour. Taxes are there for a reason. They pay for shit that helps everyone. However, the tax system can never, will never and should never work on the "honour" system. If you leave loopholes that allow people and companies to legally avoid paying as much tax as everyone thinks they should, then of course they'll use them. I mean Jesus, it's not rocket science. Pay $X in tax, or pay $Y in tax, where Y is much, much smaller than X. Both are perfectly legal. Which one are people going to pick? Aside from a select few, anyone who says "Oh I'd pay more than the minimum because it's morally right" is either a moron, lying, or simply wouldn't benefit enough from a tax avoidance scheme to make it worth their while.

If the government wants to moderate Google's behaviour (besides just pretending to want to) then they would fine them far, far more.

Maybe, but if they want to moderate Google's tax-paying behaviour then they should close the bloody loopholes that let them avoid it in the first place.

Where does the money go? (1)

thisisauniqueid (825395) | more than 2 years ago | (#40941291)

I always wondered with fines imposed by the FTC, ITC, FDA etc. -- where does the money go? Is there any incentive for govt regulatory bodies to make sure they hit a quota of fines each year so they can keep up with their budget?

Re:Where does the money go? (1)

Lando (9348) | more than 2 years ago | (#40942569)

Unlike a lot of state/county "fund raising", fines collected by the FTC and other departments are not counted as income. Some of the money may go to the people that file the grievance with the FTC with the balance going to the treasury department. Fines are only about 1 million or so a year, maybe a bit higher, so compared to the trillion or so dollars the government is spending, it doesn't really provide incentive to fine people except as needed in order to protect consumers.

Information comes from http://www.ftc.gov/oig/reports/ar02052.pdf [ftc.gov] with information about fees collected on page 19 and an explanation that a debit and credit are both entered under section (h) on page 22. I didn't see an exact accounting as to where the fees went specifically, but this seems to be the jist of it.

Be evil (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#40941423)

By now they seem to have enough important movers and shakers in their pocket, that they can get put of immoral and criminal behavior without even having to admit something and with fines that are a joke. Time for everybody with still intact ethics to leave them.

Someone had to say it... (1)

Brewster Jennings (2642639) | more than 2 years ago | (#40946083)

I blame the Conservative coders over at Google+.

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