Google Faces FTC's Largest Ever Fine Over Safari Cookie Debacle

Five months on from the Wall Street Journal spotting that Google was circumventing cookie privacy settings in Safari, the big G is now close to settling the matter with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC). There's one bitter pill that still remains to be swallowed though: Google is set to pony up $US22.5 million, the FTC's largest ever fine.

As a quick refresher, the original problem was a result of sneaky cookie tactics used by Google. In February, we wrote:

By default, a cookie should only be stored on systems when you’ve visited a site that creates them — and as long as the user has cookies enabled — but according to the report, Google’s cookie code enabled advertisers to bypass the default blocking on mobile devices, as well as enable tracking across most websites once active. The report notes that Google’s since disabled that particular bit of code.

Now, Google and the FTC are close to reaching an agreed settlement figure, reports the Wall Street Journal. While the final sum is still to be approved by FTC commissioners, both the FTC and Google have in theory agreed to a fine of $US22.5 million. If that figure gets the go-ahead, it will be the biggest fine ever issued by the FTC.

But while $US22.5 million sounds like a lot, it's worth noting that Google made that much in revenue every five hours last year. Not much of a deterrent then. [Wall Street Journal via The Verge]

Image: AP

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