(The Hosting News) – A controversy regarding Google’s actions with Apple’s Safari web browser and tracking cookies will cost Google $22.5 million dollars at the hands of the FTC, according to a Wall Street Journal report on Tuesday.
The issue initially surfaced in February when the Journal reported that Google had set up tracking cookies specifically affecting users of the web browser. It also alarmed privacy rights experts and Google quickly moved to disable the feature. However, the occurrence did not go unnoticed by the U.S. government.
The agreement apparently comes as a settlement between the two sides. It also sports one special distinction: If it goes through as expected, it will be the largest fine imposed on a company in the FTC’s history. Ouch! But the fine should only account for a small amount of the online search giant’s annual revenue. According to an infographic from WordStream, the company made $37.9 million alone last year. Most of that came from advertising.
Google has defended its actions, maintaining the cookies didn’t hurt consumers. “The FTC is focused on a 2009 help center page.…We have now changed that page and taken steps to remove the ad cookies,” commented Google, according to the Wall Street Journal’s report.
Microsoft notably lashed out at Google when the issue came to light. “This type of tracking by Google is not new. The novelty here is that Google apparently circumvented the privacy protections built into Apple’s Safari browser in a deliberate, and ultimately, successful fashion,” commented Internet Explorer Business and Marketing GM Ryan Gavin when discussing the issue on the Windows Blog in February . Gavin also used the occasion to promote Microsoft Internet Explorer web browser, a competitor of Google Chrome.
The fine is still subject to approval and terms could be changed, noted the Journal’s report. The internet giant has been the focus of antitrust concerns in the U.S. and Europe during recent times. The company is currently facing scrutiny from European antitrust regulators. According to a report by the Huffington Post earlier this month, the company was working to squelch such concerns raised by officials.