Google is being forced to pay about $17 million to 37 states and the district of in the US to make amends for the Internet giant's snooping on millions of users who used Apple's Safari browser in 2011 and 2012.
The penalty announced Monday was the result of a technology loophole in Google's DoubleClick ad network. It allowed Google to shadow unaware Safari users. The company did this and breached Apple's rules, which prohibited the tracking of users without permission.
Why did Google do this? Simple. By following what Safari users were doing online, DoubleClick was able to collect detailed data which helped Google understand what advertisements that most were likely to appeal to different groups of Safari users.
Google generates a lion's share of its revenue through advertising. Thanks to its DoubleClick advertising platform , the company sets third-party cookies - small files in consumers' Web browsers. These cookies allow third-party advertisers to collect information about those users. So by collecting data on a user's Web surfing habits, Google was able to articulate as to what kind of ads would appeal to a particular user.
So how did Google get caught? By default, the Safari Web browser has been designed to block third-party cookies. However, starting from from June 1, 2011 to February 15, 2012, Google circumvented Safari's default privacy settings to set third-party cookies on Safari Web browsers. On February 2012, after the practice was widely reported by the media, Google disabled the circumvention method.