Google, the most popular search engine to date, is also a company that is sitting on piles of cash, so to hear that they have to pay $17 million in fines because they have bypassed Safari’s anti-tracking feature by placing tracking cookies on users’ machines without prior permission, is but a drop in the bucket for them. Still, that is a lot of money to most people, and this bit of news was recently announced. As part of the final settlement with a Federal Court, Google has to fork out $17 million, in addition to a separate FTC fine of $22.5 million from last year, to 37 states in the US as well as the District of Columbia.
Google is adamant that they did not gather what it calls “private information” using the cookies, touting that the entire shebang was a mistake because of a bug in Safari. The court was not affected by any of these, considering how Apple had explicitly blocked third-party cookies as a default security feature, unless the user decides otherwise to turn it off. Google claimed that such cookie-based web features still managed to get through, hence resulting in this loophole which was “inadvertently” exploited. Well, I think this is a lesson well learnt, and hope that nothing of this sort repeats itself down the road regardless of the company.