Search engine giant Google has taken a beat on the legal side. The US Federal Trade Commission has fined the company for passing a privacy setting to gather and monitor web surfing data of users.
The fine is the highest ever penalty imposed on a company for breach of privacy. Google had supposedly installed a cookie which modified the privacy settings of Apple’s Safari browser which gained them private information regarding the browsing behaviour of users.
The installation of the cookie was carried out without asking for the permission of users. This also came across a violation of the policies of an agreement signed by the company with FTC regarding the usage of cookies on Safari.
Google has responded by assuring that they will keep the highest standards in delivering privacy to its users. A spokesman from Google said, ”Google sets the highest standards of privacy and security for our users.
FTC’s focus is on a help center page which was created in 2009 prior to the agreement and before Apple changed its policy on cookie handling. We have taken measures to remove the ad cookie which has not collected any personal information from Apple browsers.”
Back in ebruary, a Stanford University Student made this circumvention public. However, the Mountain View Valley company sticks to its stand that it hasn’t made any privacy violations. This is not the first time that Google has received allegations of mishandling of privacy. Google has been previously accused of accessing private information without user’s knowledge using its popular mail and search platforms. There also has been an accusation that Google collected data transmitted over unencrypted Wi-Fi networks while engaging cars to collect information for Google Maps.
Though, FTC has not taken any legal action against Google for snoopting Wi-Fi data, it ordered the company to remove the cookies installed on Safari browsers by February 2014. Google sticks to the stand that it was uniformed about the action of the cookies, which was the same claim made by the company when it was investigated by FTC regarding the alleged collection of Wi-Fi data, prior to this case. It is yet to be seen how Google modifies its privacy handling activities to prevent such allegations in future.