Earlier this year, Google was accused of overriding Safari privacy settings of iPhone, iPod touch and iPad owners to collect personal data from these iOS users. And after months of investigating, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is now close to reaching a deal with Google that will involve the search engine company paying a hefty $22.5 million settlement charge for its wrongful actions. The fine is expected to be the largest ever imposed by the FTC in the agency’s nearly one-hundred year history. The settlement is still awaiting approval from FTC commissioners and could be altered.
The reasoning behind the large fee is that Google’s actions in bypassing Safari security settings violated a preexisting agreement between the Mountain View company and the FTC, in which Google promised to be extremely clear about its privacy measures through a comprehensive privacy program; the agreement was put in place because of Google’s deceptive launch of the now defunct Buzz social network. Google has not admitted any wrongdoing, however, noting that the FTC is focused on a 2009 help center page that has now been changed to remove any ad cookies, which are small files that keep track of your information.