Google Investigated by the FTC Over Safari Privacy Debacle

Last month it came to light that Google had been bypassing privacy settings in Safari, by installing cookies to track the browsing habits of millions of users who didn't know what was happening. Now, the FTC is examining whether the incident violates a legal settlement in which Google pledged not to "misrepresent" its privacy practices to consumers.

The Wall Street Journal reports that regulators in both the US and Europe are investigating Google over the practice, which was halted last month when the news was announced. Last year, Google agreed to a settlement with the FTC which meant it had to be upfront with its users about privacy. From the WSJ:

"The fine for violating the agreement is $16,000 per violation, per day. Because millions of people were affected, any fine could add up quickly, depending on how it is calculated. The FTC declined to comment.

"A group of state attorneys general, including New York's Eric Schneiderman and Connecticut's George Jepsen, are also investigating Google's circumvention of Safari's privacy settings, according to people familiar with the investigation. State attorneys general can have the ability to levy fines of up to $5,000 per violation."

It's not the first legal assault launched over the incident, but it could well turn out to be the most important. [WSJ]