Google Thrown To The Watchdog Lions Over Safari

Google could be in big trouble with the European Commission and the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over its unsanctioned bypass of cookie protections in Apple’s Safari browser.

The tech giant potentially faces massive fines and years of investigations. Already, the FTC is starting to top up the total fine for individual violations, which potentially touches millions of people. According to FTC regulations, this would be based on $16,000 (£10,100) per violation per day – but will probably be capped because of the difficulty of determining the details.

Keeping CNIL busy

In Europe, the incident will be adjudged by the Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL), which is also looking at Google’s new privacy regulations for its online services. Google went ahead with implementing these rules despite strong warnings from EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding (pictured).

CNIL has yet to comment on the latest violation but last year fined the company €100,000 (£83,134) for gathering Wi-Fi information through its Street View vehicles.

The company could also face lawsuits from individuals and, in the US, a group of state attorneys general are investigating the Safari privacy circumvention which could have a maximum penalty of $5,000 (£3,155) per incident.

A Google spokeswoman told The Wall Street Journal: “We will of course co-operate with any officials who have questions, but it’s important to remember that we didn’t anticipate this would happen, and we have been removing these advertising cookies from Safari browsers.”

The international focus on privacy is changing the prospects of social media sites. Future changes in privacy policies or schemes devised to collect user metrics and profiles will have to be measured against these laws and regulations.

Eric Doyle, ChannelBiz

Eric is a veteran British tech journalist, currently editing ChannelBiz for NetMediaEurope. With expertise in security, the channel, and Britain's startup culture, through his TechBritannia initiative

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