Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Google faces $22.5M fine for alleged Safari web-surfing privacy breach

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SAN FRANCISCO -- A proposed $22.5-million fine to penalize Google for an alleged privacy breach is on the verge of winning court approval, despite a consumer rights group's cry for tougher punishment.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston told lawyers during a Friday court hearing in San Francisco that she is likely to approve the fine, which is the cornerstone of a settlement reached three months ago between the Federal Trade Commission and Google Inc.

The rebuke is meant to resolve allegations that Google duped millions of Web surfers who use the Safari browser into believing their online activities couldn't be tracked by the company as long as they didn't change the browser's privacy settings. That assurance was posted on Google's website earlier this year, even as the Internet search leader was inserting computer coding that bypassed Safari's automatic settings and enabled the company to peer into the online lives of the browser's users.

The FTC concluded that the contradiction between Google's stealth tracking and its privacy assurances to Safari users violated a vow the company made in another settlement with the agency last year. Google had promised not to mislead people about its privacy practices.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 17, 2012 B9

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