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Google to Pay $17 Million to Settle Privacy Case

Unknown Lamer posted about 8 months ago | from the lemme-dig-that-out-of-my-pocket dept.

Google 109

cold fjord writes "The New York Times reports, 'Google agreed on Monday to pay $17 million to 37 states and the District of Columbia ... The case involved Google's bypassing of privacy settings in Apple's Safari browser to use cookies to track users and show them advertisements in 2011 and 2012. Google has said it discontinued circumventing the settings early last year, after the practice was publicly reported, and stopped tracking Safari users and showing them personalized ads. ... the case is one of a growing pile of government investigations, lawsuits and punishments related to privacy matters at the company. They include cases involving a social networking tool called Buzz, illegal data collection by Street View vehicles and accusations of wiretapping to show personalized ads in Gmail. '" From the DOJ, the settlement (PDF).

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109 comments

violation of trust (5, Interesting)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 8 months ago | (#45460305)

I'm still really upset that Google hacked my browser to install tracking beacons without my knowledge and against my expressed wishes. I think this is emblematic of how they do business and how lowly they think of their "users". I also uninstalled all the google apps from my iPhone after the tracker story from last week.

What's the alternative? Hopefully, this monoculture will be replaced with a rich mix of companies and options.

Re:violation of trust (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45460349)

yea me too.

Re:violation of trust (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45460379)

me too

Re:violation of trust (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45460533)

Yeah, lets all use Microsoft instead. IE6 forever!

Re:violation of trust (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45460785)

No in fact, Apple would never break your trust!
Like collecting your GPS data for example!

Re:violation of trust (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45460353)

I'm still really upset that Google hacked my browser...

You seem to misunderstand the meaning of the work "hacked". Google did no such thing.

Re:violation of trust (3, Insightful)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | about 8 months ago | (#45461335)

I'm still really upset that Google hacked my browser...

You seem to misunderstand the meaning of the work "hacked". Google did no such thing.

Google harvested data on peoples web surfing habits against the express wishes of their customers and they did it by quite deliberately circumventing browser settings. I don't care what you name you choose to call this behaviour, the fine should have been at least one order of magnitude higher. A penalty of $17 million is a pitiful amount.

Re:violation of trust (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45462119)

A penalty of $17 million is a pitiful amount.

Not for me it isn't. If you've got $17 million to spare, send it my way.

Re:violation of trust (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45462549)

Not for me it isn't.

Which is why you'd never get fined $17M for committing a crime. You'd get 10 years in prison.

Re:violation of trust (1)

houghi (78078) | about 8 months ago | (#45465235)

It is not even a penalty. It is a settlement.

Re:violation of trust (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45460357)

There are also reports of women being assaulted and raped after their youtube comments started appearing under their real name. But hey, a few deaths is a small price to pay for inflating G+ numbers, right?

Re:violation of trust (0)

r1348 (2567295) | about 8 months ago | (#45460447)

-1 FUD

Re:violation of trust (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45460509)

...says the guy who doesn't post his name and photo.

Re:violation of trust (4, Insightful)

cheater512 (783349) | about 8 months ago | (#45460389)

There is a diverse range of companies. Alternatives include Microsoft or Yahoo.

Yeah I'm sticking to Google too. Nothing prevents the alternatives from being worse.

Re:violation of trust (2, Informative)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | about 8 months ago | (#45461405)

There is a diverse range of companies. Alternatives include Microsoft or Yahoo.

Yeah I'm sticking to Google too. Nothing prevents the alternatives from being worse.

Actually Google has pretty fierce competition these days from Bing, the caliber of Bings competitiveness is simply not acknowledged on Slashdot for religions reasons. While several recent studies have refuted Microsoft's BingItOn claim of two thirds of users preferring Bing results. Interestingly enough blind studies also suggest that that Bing actually delivers superior results to Google 41% of the time and 6% of the time they tied. Furthermore a lot of Bing's inferiority is largely perceived (i.e a 'halo' effect of the Google brand), people actually pick Bing results over Google results much of the time when you swap the brands on the search results. Myself I prefer Bing image results to Googles much of the time, the image search results from Bing often contain less noise.

[cite] [surveymonkey.com]
[cite] [networkworld.com]

That last link seems pretty negative at first but it also concludes:

There are two potential, contradictory reactions to the Ayers study:

It either conclusively or largely disproves the Bing preference claims;
  * Putting aside the Bing advertising claims, the search engine performed relatively well vs. Google.
  * Google won 53 percent of the time and Bing won 41 percent of the query tests, with a tie in 6 percent of instances. That suggests that Bing has the capacity to gain much more market share than it currently has (67 percent vs. 18 percent).

Ayers points out that the more assertive "prefer Bing 2:1 claim has been replaced on the Bing It On website with the more limited claim that "people prefer Bing."

I remember when Bing's market share was far down in the sub 10% range not that long ago.

Re:violation of trust (0)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 8 months ago | (#45463301)

I switched to Bing after Google starting screwing users by changing their privacy policies and bugging the shit out of me to tie everything into my RealID through the craptastic G+ and I have to say....its pretty nice actually. I find its image search to be a HELL of a lot better than Google's, I don't know if its because SEOs have figured out how to game Google or what but with Google I always seem to get a lot more unrelated crap than I do with Bing.

I also noticed there seems to be a lot more malware and spam links on Google as of late, they are easy enough to spot and avoid as it will have your search term mixed in with a bunch of unrelated crap. For example looking up reviews and benches for the HD7770 I got a LOT of results on Google that read "nude girls kardashian hurricane HD7770 washington shooting"etc where its obviously just spamming whatever is trending along with your search term and these seemed to be getting pretty high front page ranks. Again I don't know if the SEOs have figured out how to game Google or what but I just didn't see that nearly as often with Bing.

Finally I find the Bing rewards to be nice, if you are gonna be making money off my searches the least you can do is cut me a little slice. With the Bing rewards I get amazon gift cards which I use to get all those little things at the shop I'm always needing like CD sleeves and adapters and my fiance uses hers for all kinds of little knick knacks. Its only like $10 a month but that's a hell of a lot more than you get from Google.

All Google seems to be doing as of late is making their terms nastier and trying to force G+ every damned where (Seriously Google when I say i DO NOT WANT my realID on YouTube you should STFU and quit bugging the shit out of me, its pretty bad when i have to have a "YouTube browser" just to get you to quit bugging me) and its really a shame as once upon a time Google was the shit, always coming out with cool new things and trying new ideas. Now I have to have a Gmail just for my android phone so I can look at Youtube on it without being hassled, a browser on my desktop for the same reason, and every time I turn around I have Google bugging the piss out of me to use G+. Man I hope the MozPhone turns out to be decent as Google is REALLY starting to irk me, the quicker I can lose any association with Google the better..

Re:violation of trust (1)

minstrelmike (1602771) | about 8 months ago | (#45463861)

I switched to Bing because Google is evil

And you know fer sure we can all trust Micro$oft with our data because of past behavior.

Re:violation of trust (1)

riis138 (3020505) | about 8 months ago | (#45462349)

They all do it. The only way to get around it is to use privacy-focused alternatives like duckduckgo.com and startpage.com

Re:violation of trust (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45460409)

$17 million is smallchange to Google. And the affected man in the street never sees a penny, nor evven a reduction in taxes. Its a nice way for Google to "donate" $17 million for govt pet projects without it being seen as lobbying / bribes / etc.

Re:violation of trust (3, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | about 8 months ago | (#45460813)

4 hours worth of revenue, someone figured out.

Tax write off, cost of doing business, and all the money went to the lawyers.

Re:violation of trust (1)

Bite The Pillow (3087109) | about 8 months ago | (#45460411)

Don't trust.

Re:violation of trust (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45460511)

What the monoculture like Apple?

Re:violation of trust (1)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | about 8 months ago | (#45461365)

What the monoculture like Apple?

How can you be a monoculture within your own product line? Apple has fierce competition on the PC market, the smartphone market and the tablet market. Now sod off to Starbucks or something and try really hard to come up with a better troll.

Re:violation of trust (1)

SeanBlader (1354199) | about 8 months ago | (#45460519)

They hacked your browser? Or did they make you install one they coded up themselves? I bet you're still on Facebook though. Realistically, when you are the product, their bosses, the investors, will stop at nothing for them to sell you better. Get used to it, or start paying for everything you do on the web.

Re:violation of trust (3, Insightful)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 8 months ago | (#45460663)

They hacked your browser? Or did they make you install one they coded up themselves? I bet you're still on Facebook though.

Not sure I follow... yes, they hacked my Safari browser. I do not use the Chrome browser for obvious reasons considering this discussion. I also don't use Facebook for obvious reasons. What did you mean?

Realistically, when you are the product, their bosses, the investors, will stop at nothing for them to sell you better. Get used to it, or start paying for everything you do on the web.

I agree. Which is why I work to minimize my exposure to that sort of monetization.

Get used to it, or start paying for everything you do on the web.

There's a middle way where you get treated with respect. For example, Apple has a google apps competitor and a google maps competitor that is free and they're not scheming to monetize you. They win by giving you a reason to buy their hardware. In short, no, I'm not going to get used to it.

Re:violation of trust (1, Troll)

icebike (68054) | about 8 months ago | (#45460829)

No, they didn't hack Safari.
The put a cookie on your phone, just like every other cookie.
Safari, unlike other browsers, blocks cookies from ad networks like Google’s. But Google had been exploiting a loophole to avoid the block, install cookies and track Safari users to show them personalized ads. It was a BUG in Safari. It was not a hack in any sense.

Re:violation of trust (2)

rsmith-mac (639075) | about 8 months ago | (#45461063)

It was a BUG in Safari. It was not a hack in any sense.

So if I take advantage of a BUG in Slashcode in order to download the user and password tables for Slashdot, then I'm not really hacking Slashdot, right?

Re:violation of trust (1)

icebike (68054) | about 8 months ago | (#45461085)

Right.
If it's available to everyone and you don't need to brut force a password or steal one, it's Dice's fault.

Re:violation of trust (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45461323)

Right.
If it's available to everyone and you don't need to brut force a password or steal one, it's Dice's fault.

Are you serious? I honestly cannot tell [wikipedia.org] . You sound just like a teenage hacker just before he gets blindsided by a multi-year prison sentence.

Re:violation of trust (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45461329)

So if I take advantage of a BUG in Slashcode in order to download the user and password tables for Slashdot, then I'm not really hacking Slashdot, right?

They didn't take advantage of it. It was an unintended consequence of the way Safari handled cookies for people who had already accessed a site. That's why they got a slap-on-the-wrist negligence fine instead of real punishment.

"We used known Safari functionality to provide features that signed-in Google users had enabled," says Rachel Whetstone, Google's senior vice president of communications and public policy. If you were logged in, Google could then deliver personalized advertising and perform other functions, such as sending +1's back to a user's Google+ social networking profile.

"However, the Safari browser contained functionality that then enabled other Google advertising cookies to be set on the browser," Whetstone says. "We didn't anticipate that this would happen, and we have now started removing these advertising cookies from Safari browsers." Google also emphasizes that its advertising cookies do not collect any personal information.

Re:violation of trust (2)

Xest (935314) | about 8 months ago | (#45461563)

It's not straightforward. Intent matters.

If you were sent a link on Facebook and it led to an HTML dump of all the usernames and passwords then no, you wouldn't be hacking, you wouldn't even be at fault. Similarly if you click a link on Slashdot itself, or clicked back and forward a bit and triggered a bug or whatever and this happened then again, not your fault. Slashdot's fault entirely.

If you were maliciously searching for exploits to exploit and you found one and exploited it intentionally for personal gain then yes.

So in this particular case it depends if Google was intentionally exploiting the bug, or if Google's code was doing what it always did but because Apple fucked up it resulted in unintentional behaviour. It depends if Google implemented code specifically to exploit this bug.

So stop using such simplistic examples that only tell half the story, it reeks of bias.

Re:violation of trust (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | about 8 months ago | (#45461725)

So in this particular case it depends if Google was intentionally exploiting the bug, or if Google's code was doing what it always did but because Apple fucked up it resulted in unintentional behaviour. It depends if Google implemented code specifically to exploit this bug.

Google had three different implementations; one specifically for Safari to exploit the bug that when a form was submitted, even though it was invisible, Safari believed the form was submitted by the user and used different rules for cookies based on that false belief. One specifically for Internet Explorer, where they figured out that passing certain malformed information to Internet Explorer made it allow cookies when it shouldn't. And one "normal" one.

Re:violation of trust (1)

larry bagina (561269) | about 8 months ago | (#45462541)

Was it also a BUG in Google's documentation when they stated that they didn't track Safarai users?

"In Google's case, the findings appeared to contradict some of Google's own instructions to Safari users on how to avoid tracking. Until recently, one Google site told Safari users they could rely on Safari's privacy settings to prevent tracking by Google." source [wsj.com]

Re:violation of trust (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45460931)

But did you actually buy apple harware or got a subsidized one from your carrier ?

Re:violation of trust (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45461537)

Oh I see, so to cut a long story short you're telling us that you're an Apple fanboy and this was a good opportunity to have a pop at Google?

Why didn't you just say that, it would skip all the nonsense.

Let me give you a hint kid, the reason Google has piles of investigations on it, the reason why Apple only gets investigated for anti-competitiveness when it outright forms a price fixing cartel with book publishers, and gets given immunity from penalty by the president himself when it breaks patents is precisely because Google in a thorn in the side of governments having historically been the most open it could be of the tech companies (except perhaps Twitter) in terms of how many government requests it would receive.

The reason Apple is allowed to get away with so much more is because it plays ball with the security service boys and it's the same with Microsoft.

So if you think Apple, Microsoft or whoever else are going to magically protect you're privacy you've not been paying attention. It's pretty clear that there are companies who have been trying to push back against the NSA (Google, Yahoo, Twitter) and companies that have been playing ball (Apple, Microsoft, Facebook). It's pretty obvious what the reward is for those companies that play ball given that once again they're allowed to play by a different set of rules to the others when it comes to things like patent law, privacy, and monopolistic practices. Why do you think Facebook can continually get away with outright breaking privacy laws without question but every time Google does something that's vastly less of a big deal it's straight into punishment mode and smeared across the media with shock terms such as those you use like "violated" - really? you were violated because Google served targeted ads at you ignoring a browser flag? You realise that happens to you every single time you use the web from just about every other ad agency right?

Microsoft learnt the hard way to play ball with government when it suffered it's anti-trust case and one or two Microsoft execs themselves have been quoted as saying their biggest mistake was not having enough lobbyists in government (as opposed to the actual mistake, which was being an abusive monopoly).

Your naivety of how the world works leaves a gaping hole in your ability to genuinely protect yourself from intrusion of your privacy and in fact gets you doing exactly what you want - spouting propaganda as to how people should leave the evil privacy abuser (i.e. the one of the most ethical tech companies going) and join the super-perfect shiny happy friends club (i.e. the most monopolistically abusive companies in the tech world that stifle innovation with patents).

But if Obama vetoing repercussions for Apple's patent abuse at the FTC whilst not vetoing Samsung's when it was the exact same thing didn't ring alarm bells in your head I'd wager you're just not smart enough to realise what's been going on so whilst you say you want to protect yourself, you'll continue achieving the exact opposite by putting your data in the hands of those who happily pass it to the NSA without a fuss.

So keep on dreaming, you don't really care if your data is spread here there and everywhere, all you really care about is the illogical fanboy mindset of protecting the reputation of your favourite shiny whilst attacking the others.

It's pathetic.

Re:violation of trust (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 8 months ago | (#45461871)

Sadly, I think you're right, although in this case I think in this case the fine against Google was to small. This really was 'Evil' of the sort that they normally avoid.

Re:violation of trust (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45462749)

This really was 'Evil' of the sort that they normally avoid.

"Normally avoid"? Did you just step out of a time machine from 1999?

Re:violation of trust (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 8 months ago | (#45462259)

I agree with most of what you said, but have to take issue with this:

For example, Apple has a google apps competitor and a google maps competitor that is free and they're not scheming to monetize you.

That's nonsense. They lock you in to their revenue stream and do thinks like roll out software updates that break 3rd party cables to force you to buy theirs. They collect personal data via their platform and use it to sell you to other companies, e.g. through their ad network or via iTunes recommendations. They even sign you up for their products without even asking - an iCloud account was created for me that I didn't even know existed until I tried to delete my Apple ID. When I last used it iCloud didn't even exist. They want me to use iCloud so they can sell me a premium version and monetize me, as well as have access to all my files.

Re:violation of trust (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 8 months ago | (#45463807)

I agree with most of what you said, except for this:

They collect personal data via their platform and use it to sell you to other companies, e.g. through their ad network or via iTunes recommendations.

True, Apple tries to monetize you and lock you in as a customer. But for Google, their customers are the ad companies, and you are the product they sell to them. I think Apple treats its customers with respect. Many people agree with me so they have a very high customer satisfaction score, compared to ATT, Comcast, etc which just try to rip you off.

I've never found any links that Apple sells me to other companies. They have their iAds which are a very small portion of their revenue and is only to throw a developers a bone, but from what I've read they're a real pain in the ass to work with because they erect barriers to customer information. I know they watch my iTunes usage like a hawk, but my understanding is it is for their own internal store and algorithms, not passed on to the music companies. If you've found any information otherwise, please send it to me!

Re:violation of trust (2)

steelfood (895457) | about 8 months ago | (#45460845)

Hopefully, this monoculture will be replaced with a rich mix of companies and options.

There is none. You can keep hoping, but nothing better is going to appear. You can either pay for the convenience out of your own pockets, or you can give up some of the information you possess on yourself so that the companies who provide the convenience can sell it to subsidize the convenience. The only other option is to rely on charity, but who's going to provide that charity? You?

The only sure way to win is to not play. And in this society, I'm not sure I'd call that winning.

Re:violation of trust (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 8 months ago | (#45461095)

"I think this is emblematic of how they do business and how lowly they think of their "users". I also uninstalled all the google apps from my iPhone after the tracker story from last week."

"... discontinued... after the practice was publicly reported" says everything that needs to be said.

Re:violation of trust (2)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about 8 months ago | (#45461191)

Here is the problem...

Google provides a ton of services to you for "free".

Except, they aren't free, they cost Google a lot of money. So who is actually paying them?

*That* is Google's customer, not you...

You are the product to be sold...

If you want to be the customer, you have to pay up.

Re:violation of trust (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 8 months ago | (#45461247)

agreed, which I why I don't use gmail, I don't use google apps, I don't use chrome, I don't use android, and I don't use google maps. Bing is my default browser search engine. I do use google search regularly, but in those cases I humbly bow to the ass probing they give me when I use it.

Re:violation of trust (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 8 months ago | (#45461891)

You do understand that you can use Android with any ties to Google whatsoever? Many of the same things you're avoiding with Google search are also there in Bing. As someone else mentioned, if you're not paying for the service with money, you're paying for it with something else.

Re:violation of trust (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 8 months ago | (#45463877)

You do understand that you can use Android with any ties to Google whatsoever?

you know, that's what people say. To tell you the truth I don't believe it, and I don't see how anybody could be sure. It's like saying you can boff a prosty without getting a disease as long as you wear a rubber.

Many of the same things you're avoiding with Google search are also there in Bing.

you're right here. on my desktop, the bing thing is more of an eff you. on my iPhone, apple has eliminated google as the default search engine for their browser, so it's an eff you from them!

Agreed, which is why I try to eliminate / minimize the use of those services whenever possible. Other people make different decisions, which is fine. The only thing that is sad is when people use the services and don't understand the point you make, and do not realize what they're giving up.

Re:violation of trust (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45461803)

"don't be evil" went out of fashion at the googleplex years ago. they ARE evil. makes you wonder what else they're doing that we don't know about already... their terms are written so pro-google and anti-user that they could pretty much do anything and be within their terms.

The case involved Google's bypassing of privacy settings in Apple's Safari browser to use cookies to track users and show them advertisements in 2011 and 2012. Google has said it discontinued circumventing the settings early last year, after the practice was publicly reported

key things here in this particular case.. they not only bypassed privacy settings.. client side settings... but then they did not discontinue the practice until after they were caught and publicly outed.

fuck you, sergey. fuck you, larry. fuck you, eric. fuck you, google

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don't_be_evil [wikipedia.org] needs to be updated to read something along the lines of "WAS their informal slogan before they became evil themselves"

$17M? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45460351)

Isn't that what Page and Brin piss out the window on a daily basis at their lunch breaks?

Re:$17M? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45460485)

It isnt.

Re:$17M? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45460971)

$17M to g00gle

That would be like $.17 (seventeen cents) from a normal person's pocket, right?

Oh, that's gonna really hurt. Teach them that privacy lesson, yeaH

Re:$17M? (1)

ibwolf (126465) | about 8 months ago | (#45461737)

$17M to g00gle

That would be like $.17 (seventeen cents) from a normal person's pocket, right?

Actually, assuming the average person earns about fifty thousand dollars a year, a comparable amount would be 17 dollars, not 17 cents. This is easy to see as Google's 2012 revenue was about 50 thousand million (i.e. 50 billion) dollars.

Google's gonna play ball now (2)

turkeydance (1266624) | about 8 months ago | (#45460373)

that's a nice search engine you have there. it would be a shame if something happened to it. my cousin, NSA, would like to have a meeting.

Re:Google's gonna play ball now (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45460449)

the case is one of a growing pile of government investigations, lawsuits and punishments related to privacy matters at the company

Oh the IRONY of that statement. "government protecting your privacy"

Re:Google's gonna play ball now (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 8 months ago | (#45460681)

that's a nice search engine you have there. it would be a shame if something happened to it.

That's unfair - the Mafia has some sense of honor.

As a Safari User... (4, Insightful)

whisper_jeff (680366) | about 8 months ago | (#45460393)

As a Safari user, where's my cheque?

Oh. That's right. My privacy was invaded but governments are going to get the money.

That seems fair. ...

Re:As a Safari User... (2)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 8 months ago | (#45460565)

Yup, so you can pay less tax... MUHAHAHA!

Re:As a Safari User... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45460567)

Hey, your government spent a lot of money invading your privacy; they have to recoup it somehow!

Re:As a Safari User... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45461321)

Hey, your government spent a lot of money invading your privacy; they have to recoup it somehow!

They don't like competition.

Re:As a Safari User... (1)

BringsApples (3418089) | about 8 months ago | (#45460595)

$17 million to 37 states, let's see...

That's $459,459 per state.
That would almost pay for one mile of a 4-lane interstate to be paved with 2" of black-top.

Re:As a Safari User... (1)

Oysterville (2944937) | about 8 months ago | (#45460633)

...or 200,000 boxes of cookies for the homeless.

Re:As a Safari User... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45460683)

...or 200,000 boxes of cookies for the homeless.

Or >1,000,000 pounds of soybeans.

Re:As a Safari User... (1)

GumphMaster (772693) | about 8 months ago | (#45460777)

... or just part of the legal costs already sunk on trying to put this particular genie back in the bottle

Re:As a Safari User... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45463011)

Yes much more likely.

Re:As a Safari User... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45460741)

It would buy 459 fucks with a high class call girl... or call boy!

What law did Google break? (2)

TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) | about 8 months ago | (#45460437)

Anyone know? I tried to view the PDF, but it crashes my browser.

Extra: Why is exploiting a browser weakness an offense for a company? If I make a web page that crashes IE6, am I at fault? Anyone know the rationale for why browser settings in this particular case are some sort of "holy grail" that if Google violates there is hell to pay?

Can I now sue Verizon for crapwares that make my phone vulernable?

I guess I am asking others: What line the sand did Google step across?

Re:What law did Google break? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45460571)

I guess I am asking others: What line the sand did Google step across?

"We used known Safari functionality to provide features that signed-in Google users had enabled," says Rachel Whetstone, Google's senior vice president of communications and public policy. If you were logged in, Google could then deliver personalized advertising and perform other functions, such as sending +1's back to a user's Google+ social networking profile.

"However, the Safari browser contained functionality that then enabled other Google advertising cookies to be set on the browser," Whetstone says. "We didn't anticipate that this would happen, and we have now started removing these advertising cookies from Safari browsers." Google also emphasizes that its advertising cookies do not collect any personal information.

Re:What law did Google break? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45461945)

Hello Google!

I see you pasted your press release into this /. story. Let me counter that with the observation, als mentioned by others here, that there were distinct versions going around, each targeting different "unanticipated" behaviours in different browsers.

Why, it's almost as if it was not an accident at all!

Re:What law did Google break? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45460597)

First four entries in Appendix A on the PDF that you are having trouble with:

  • Alabama Deceptive Trade Practices Act, Ala. Code 8-19-1 through 8-19-15
  • Arizona Consumer Fraud Act, Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. 44-1521, et seq.; Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. 13-2316(A)(6) and (D); Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. 44-7301, et seq
  • Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, Ark. Code Ann. 4-88-101 through 115; Arkansas Computer-Related Crimes Act, Ark. Code Ann. 5-41-106; Consumer Protection Against Computer Spyware Act, Ark. Code Ann. 4-111-101 through 105
  • California - Cal. Bus & Prof. Code 17200, et seq.; Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code 17500; Comprehensive Computer Data Access and Fraud Act, Cal. Penal Code 502

All 37 states plus the District of Columbia are represented in the appendix.

Re:What law did Google break? (1)

ljw1004 (764174) | about 8 months ago | (#45461017)

: Why is exploiting a browser weakness an offense for a company? If I make a web page that crashes IE6, am I at fault?

Just to note, exploiting a website weakness, or a crummy website that ends up exposing people's accounts through crafted http requests, is also an offense - counts as unauthorized access I think. So I'm happy to see things going the other way as well.

Re:What law did Google break? (1)

NoKaOi (1415755) | about 8 months ago | (#45461341)

Extra: Why is exploiting a browser weakness an offense for a company? If I make a web page that crashes IE6, am I at fault?

Ok, since you're throwing out hypotheticals, how about if a company exploits a browser weakness to root your computer in order to track your browsing habits? How about if they root your phone in order to track your physical whereabouts? How about if they root your computer to steal your credit card info?

The fact that it was a browser weakness is irrelevant. It was the fact that they exploited it to do something the browser was clearly trying to prevent them from doing. If your door locks have a weakness, does that make it okay to exploit that weakness, open the door and enter your house even though you and the makers of the lock clearly intended me not to?

Re:What law did Google break? (2)

Xest (935314) | about 8 months ago | (#45461597)

I think you're inadvertently hit the problem - the question is whether they intentionally exploited the vulnerability, or whether the vulnerability failed to stop their code working as intended.

There's a fine line between the two as to blame. If I intentionally search for an exploit in a browser that lets me still their browsing history then that's me being malicious, if however I write some code to gather all data the browser will let me have and then a browser with a bug that bundles the browsing history into that data when it shouldn't hits it and sends me that data, then that's not my fault.

Re:What law did Google break? (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 8 months ago | (#45461913)

It sounds to me like they intentionally used a browser's weaknesses to run something against the users wishes, or more accurately, without asking them. A definite 'evil' in either case, and a criminal act of some sort in at least one of them.

Re:What law did Google break? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45463729)

I think you're inadvertently hit the problem - the question is whether they intentionally exploited the vulnerability, or whether the vulnerability failed to stop their code working as intended.

Okay, and it's clear that they did, seeing as they were using different exploit vectors depending on the browser in use.

Re:What law did Google break? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 8 months ago | (#45461575)

If I make a web page that crashes IE6, am I at fault?

If you make a web site and it happens to crash IE6, then you're not at fault. If you make a web site that intentionally crashes IE6 and encourage IE6 users to visit it, then I don't see why it would be treated any differently from any other DoS attack. If I find a bug that crashes Apache from a malformed URL and then stick a link to someone's Apache server with such a URL on my web page, I don't think there's any doubt that it's malicious.

In the case of Google, they intentionally exploited a security hole in Safari to collect information about the user. This seems like something that is a pretty clear cut case of violating whatever the US equivalent of the Computer Misuse Act is. $17m seems like a very low fine considering the number of people who were affected. It's under $1 per incident, which doesn't seem enough to discourage a company like Google.

Can I now sue Verizon for crapwares that make my phone vulernable?

If they install them for the purpose of making your phone vulnerable, yes. If they exploit the holes introduced by the crapware for profit (or for other purposes), then yes.

I guess I am asking others: What line the sand did Google step across?

They identified a vulnerability in a piece of software, and instead of reporting it they decided to exploit it.

Re:What law did Google break? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45462479)

Anyone know? I tried to view the PDF, but it crashes my browser.

Extra: Why is exploiting a browser weakness an offense for a company? If I make a web page that crashes IE6, am I at fault? Anyone know the rationale for why browser settings in this particular case are some sort of "holy grail" that if Google violates there is hell to pay?

Can I now sue Verizon for crapwares that make my phone vulernable?

I guess I am asking others: What line the sand did Google step across?

Ladies and gentlemen, I present the "fanboi".

Don't Be Evil, So Said the Google (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45460493)

Don't Be Evil, So Said the Google

$17 million out of $50 billion (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45460539)

Google had $50 billion in revenues in 2012. If they use 3 significant figures, the fine rounds to $zero on their financial statements.

Re:$17 million out of $50 billion (1)

NoKaOi (1415755) | about 8 months ago | (#45460817)

Google had $50 billion in revenues in 2012. If they use 3 significant figures, the fine rounds to $zero on their financial statements.

Exactly. $17 Million is just a small cost of doing business and really won't do anything to make them think twice next time. Change that M to a B and then it might make a difference. Or better yet, hold the C's directly responsible.

Re:$17 million out of $50 billion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45460997)

Thank you, my sentiments,exactly. I wonder how much usage Google is loosing with the continued assault on their credibility like this. Plenty, I hope.

The dear government (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45460569)

I had no idea how concerned they were about preservation of privacy.

WTF (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45460589)

I have ads off, not logged in. Why is the ad in the corner alternating between a bank CD ad and an "update your browser" scam ad?

Your (should be) daily reminder (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45460605)

You have zero privacy now. GET OVER IT.

- Scott McNealy

McNealy (then CEO of Sun Microsystems) said that back in 1998! But I guess the children of the Facebook generation will be accustomed to living on a 24x7 web cam, permanently archived, transcripted and searchable. They'll belch and shit and have sex and masturbate in public, and everyone will be like, OK so what.

shessh (1)

WeeBit (961530) | about 8 months ago | (#45460623)

They got off lite

Naughty Naughty (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45460649)

We have multiple probes on the global electronic transactions of General Keith Alexander NSA Director.

We are still watching.

Yet, our techniques yield a bounty of information regarding Eric Schmidt, Sergei Brin and Larry Page on THEIR
nefarious global electronic transactions.

What do their transactions show?

Evil beyond writing about. Does having a "taste" for broiled Ugandan child age 1 to 2 years old turn your stomach? Then
you are NOT a favorite of Eric Schmidt's dinner parties.

Obama has been a "Royal" guest!

Can't hide from us! 3:-)

Google's new Motto (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45460661)

"You have nothing to hide, right?"

Re:Google's new Motto (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | about 8 months ago | (#45461039)

"It's not evil until you're caught."

slap on the wrist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45460697)

The penalty should be more in the ballpark of $170 billion.

DuckDuckGo (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45460793)

For similar reasons, I've changed my browser to DuckDuckGo as the default search engine. I'm also in the process of deleting all my accounts with them including adsense and gmail.

They've gotten too big. It's like a privately owned NSA.

Scary shit.

DuckDuckGo appreciates my business by specifically respecting my privacy both in policy and by specifically not recording what I search for. I recommend anyone who cares to check them out.

https://www.duckduckgo.com

Re:DuckDuckGo (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | about 8 months ago | (#45460847)

DuckDuckGo appreciates my business by specifically respecting my privacy both in policy and by specifically not recording what I search for.

For now.

Right now they ride on the anti-NSA wave, and they're still small. When they get bigger and the lure of advertising money becomes irresistible... well, we'll see.

DDG is great, I use it too, but I'm watching them, and I'll switch to another search engine the minute they do something rotten.

Google used to be small and trustworthy too...

Re:DuckDuckGo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45460899)

same anonymous who posted the first DuckDuckGo post above.

I agree completely. with your statement, Rosco.

We always have to be watching and be ready to switch. But in the meanwhile... At least there is a good (for now) alternative to the big search engine companies.

Re:DuckDuckGo (1)

erikkemperman (252014) | about 8 months ago | (#45461969)

Yeah, it is really nice to have DDG out there. It is my default search box. However, it still happens quite regularly that it doesn't return a result which I absolutely expected. And in those cases Goggle usually does show that result.

And even if I attempt to help DDG, say by including a few more terms that I actually *copy* from the site I'm hoping to find, still nothing most of the time. It's as if their index just doesn't cover nearly as many pages.

Would be great if it improves, and for now I'll just keep trying DDG first.

For those looking for a technical explanation (4, Interesting)

antifoidulus (807088) | about 8 months ago | (#45460925)

TFA doesn't actually contain any details on how they did that, but (ironically) with the help of Google, I was able to find a page that details the process [webpolicy.org] . The short answer is they took advantage of the fact that any form submitted from the browser to a site would allow that site to install cookies, so they added a hidden form submit to their ads.

Bad Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45460967)

Firstly: this is why I don't use Google, very little Yahoo and nor Twitter or facebook. Secondly, and most importantly: Google should have been forced to pay 17 mil PER state to make it hurt or least a little bit (total of 615 mil)

It's getting better and better at searching _me_. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45461021)

> Get used to it, or start paying for everything you do on the web.

They said it was a search engine, and would keep getting better.
They didn't say it was going to be better and better at searching _me_.

I didn't sign up for that.
Anybody want to retry FIDOnet and Usenet?
  This Web stuff is running backward and overheating.

Google would never do that to me. (5, Funny)

Kaz Kylheku (1484) | about 8 months ago | (#45461031)

I use Google+, and Chrome, and Google Apps, Mail, AdWords, etc.

Google loves me as a result and respects my privacy.

Re:Google would never do that to me. (1)

riis138 (3020505) | about 8 months ago | (#45462373)

Thats right, you have to level up your Google character and then they stop tracking you.

They seem to be getting worse, rather than better. (3, Interesting)

seebs (15766) | about 8 months ago | (#45461043)

And today I got a G+ event invitation to a suspended G+ account (they don't consider "seebs" a real name). Since it's suspended, I can't opt out of notifications or mailings, nor can I use the help forums to contact them. Or anything else, so far as I can tell.

Re:They seem to be getting worse, rather than bett (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45462433)

I send all G+ crap to "spam".

$17M for Google == $1 for me... (1)

mtthwbrnd (1608651) | about 8 months ago | (#45461331)

Fining Google $17M is like fining me $1. It is a funking joke fine.

Only in America (1)

riis138 (3020505) | about 8 months ago | (#45462363)

In capitalist America, Google search you!
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