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Google to pay $22.5m to end Apple tracking case

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By Stewart Mitchell

Posted on 10 Jul 2012 at 08:58

Google is set to pay $22.5 million to settle a Federal Trade Commission investigation into charges that the search giant breached the privacy settings of Apple users and tracked their online activity.

According a report in the Wall Street Journal citing sources close to the case, the fine would be the largest the FTC ever brought against a US company.

The action follows allegations that Google figured out a way to track users in both the mobile and desktop versions of Safari, despite the Apple browser having built-in protections against certain cookies being dropped on user's computers.

The FTC is focused on a 2009 help centre page and Google has now changed that page and taken steps to remove the ad cookies

That happened despite a Google help page claiming Safari users would not be tracked, which added fuel to user anger.

According to Google, the tracking was accidental. The company said it was changing it practices to make its actions clearer and to stop using some of its tracking cookies.

"The FTC is focused on a 2009 help centre page and Google has now changed that page and taken steps to remove the ad cookies," the company said in a statement sent to the paper.

However, the case puts Google in the spotlight as only last year it entered into a long-term commitment to better protect user privacy following a series of issues.

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