US FTC votes to fine Google $22.5 million for bypassing Safari privacy settings; Settlement allows Google to admit no liability

According to a Reuters report citing “two people familiar with the matter,” U.S. FTC regulators will require Google Inc. to pay a civil penalty of $22.5 million to settle charges that it bypassed the privacy settings of customers using Apple Inc’s Safari browser.

“The Federal Trade Commission voted to approve a consent decree that will allow Google to settle the agency’s investigation but admit no liability, said one of the sources, who was not authorized to speak on the record,” Reuters reports. “An official announcement is expected within days, the second source said.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Some penalty. Google wipes their collective ass with more than that each and every day.

And, why is Google allowed to settle at all? What’s their leverage? If they did something wrong that requires a fine, why are they allowed to negotiate things like no admission of liability? Why are they allowed to negotiate anything at all? If you steal somebody’s credit card, go on a shopping spree, and get caught, do they fingerprint you, take your mugshot and then sit down to negotiate your sentence? Is the reason so that Google can escape civil actions on the part of millions of affected Safari users who had their privacy settings bypassed? If so, why are they allowed to escape with a slap on the wrist they won’t even notice along with no admission of liability? If so, why is the ability of Safari users to seek recompense impeded?

Related articles:
Google’s D.C. lobbyists have outspent Apple nearly 10 to 1 so far this year – July 23, 2012
Google to pay $22.5 million to settle charges over bypassing privacy settings of millions of Apple users – July 10, 2012
Apple’s anti-user tracking policy has mobile advertisers scrambling – May 9, 2012
Google said to be negotiating amount of U.S. FTC fine over Apple Safari breach – May 4, 2012
Cookies and privacy, Google and Safari – February 25, 2012
Obama’s privacy plan puts pinch on Google – February 24, 2012
Obama administration outlines online privacy guidelines – February 23, 2012
Google sued by Apple Safari-user for bypassing browser privacy – February 21, 2012
Google responds to Microsoft over privacy issues, calls IE’s cookie policy ‘widely non-operational’ – February 21, 2012
Google’s tracking of Safari users could prompt FTC investigation – February 18, 2012
WSJ: Google tracked iPhone, iPad users, bypassing Apple’s Safari browser privacy settings; Microsoft denounces – February 17, 2012


  1. “And, why is Google allowed to settle at all? What’s their leverage?”
    It’s called money and power. Paying fines and not taking responsibility
    in corporate America is just business as usual.

    1. That’s not how the process works.

      Google didn’t admit liability because it next expects to be sued in civil cases and doesn’t way this settlement to be used against it in those suits.

      If settling this case is an admission of guilt in the later cases, settling this case (brought by the government) may automatically cause Google to lose thousands of others brought by the public. Knowledge of that outcome would prevent Google from settling the present case, no matter how reasonable the government’s terms.

    1. @ iJah420 & @ Ubermac (below)

      The FTC is not part of the Judicial system, it’s part of the Executive branch.

      Basic US high school civics. (You’re forgiven if you aren’t from the US.)

  2. Google continues to build a huge treasure trove of international privacy information that our government still wants access too. This fine is simply a symbolic negotiation number.

  3. That’s All !!

    How many times is google going to keep apologizing and getting off the hook…. Can it be all of thoes goverment contracts that google keeps pushing or maybe the billions in lobbing money it greased the Stuffed Pigs in Washington.

    This is F***** Bullshit, and the FTC has no Balls at all to do what is right.

    Fu** Google, We can now hope that Apple takes thoes bastards down also just like thoes Sumdung idiots that lie and destroy evidence.

  4. Admit. no liability?
    Oh they are liable ok…

    And who is getting this incredibly small amount of money? Not the affected Safari users of google’s misbehave.

    1. The fine, based on Googles income, is about like a $150 traffic ticket to the average American. Pretty cheap for a Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card. I wonder if they get any points on their business license?

  5. B/c they lobby, b/c they are in bed with the Gov (Repub and Dem alike), b/c they are too big to fail, b/c we are sheep, cattle, products, b/c the good guy never finishes first, b/c it pays to be evil. I fear the future for my kids, Minority Report advertising and tracking are not far away, giving up Civil Libs for the cause… Operation Mindcrime cannot be too far away!

  6. This is the US justice system. A complete joke.

    Watch the Apple Shamedung case become a joke right in front of you, or judge POSner dismiss it at will.

    Just like the Oracle Google case, where Oracle has to pay Google 4 million bucks now to have their IP ripped off.

  7. “if you steal somebody’s credit card, go on a shopping spree, and get caught, do they fingerprint you, take your mugshot and then sit down to negotiate your sentence?”

    Uh, yes. It’s called a plea bargain. The point of plea bargains is to get something from the dependent in exchange for final disposition of a case, in an overloaded legal system.

    1. Correct. In the real world, administration of justice must be approached practically and pragmatically. It should be remembered, also, that repeat offenses up the ante. And guilt, not punishment, increases oversight and scrutiny, and diminishes reputation—a valuable business asset.

      That being said, I appreciate the moral outrage expressed in this forum, especially since it’s clear that Google deserves to be hung by its entrails.

  8. You know, it’s really amazing how worked up we all get when Gargle gets a slap on the wrist but I see a lot of positive comments about Chrome and Gmail and other Gurgle products. I don’t see how anyone cannot see the total evil and profound immorality of Goofle, and at the same time continue to use its products. Giggle doesn’t give a flying hoot about individuals or consumers. It’s all about acquiring a treasure chest full of data (that we consumers used to consider private) about every one of us.

    Give up Google Search by using Duck Duck Go. Don’t succumb to the siren song of Chrome or Chromium. Don’t sign up for Gmail (Yahoo is just as good). Don’t aggregate your RSS feeds with Google Reader.

    Use any of the above and consider your life an open book for Google and any government who pays for access to those records.

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