“Google Inc is close to a deal to pay $22.5 million to settle charges related to its surreptitious bypassing of the privacy settings of millions of Apple Inc. users, according to officials briefed on the settlement terms,” Julia Angwin reports for The Wall Street Journal.

“The fine is expected to be the largest penalty ever levied on a single company by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. It offers the latest sign of the FTC’s stepped-up approach to policing online privacy violations, coming just six months after The Wall Street Journal reported on Google’s practices,” Angwin reports. “While the fine likely will represent only a tiny portion of Google’s revenues—last year, the Internet giant raked in that much cash roughly every five hours or so—it counts among a series of negative reports about Google’s privacy practices that could undermine users’ trust in its services.”

Angwin reports, “The current charges involve Google’s use of special computer code to trick Apple’s Safari Web-browsing software into letting it monitor users that had blocked such tracking. Google disabled the code after being contacted by the Journal, which wrote about Google’s practices in February. Google officials say tracking of Apple users was inadvertent and didn’t cause any harm to consumers. But Google’s actions appeared to contradict previous statements it had made assuring Apple users that they could rely on Safari’s privacy settings to block unwanted tracking… Separately, a group of U.S. state attorneys general are investigating Google’s circumvention of Safari’s privacy settings. State attorneys general can have the ability to levy fines of up to $5,000 per violation. “The investigation is ongoing,” said a spokesman for New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: A slap on the wrist and a half-hearted one at that. Largest penalty ever? Meh. It’s like fining any one of us $22.50 and calling it a day. No deterrent whatsoever.

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