The US Federal Trade Commission fined Google a rumored $22.5 million for a cookie tracking issue that arose as a result of a Wall Street Journal investigation, according to The Associated Press. US District Judge Susan Illston approved the fine.
Google was slapped with the Â fine after it was caught tracking Safari browser cookies without usersâ€™ knowledge. An investigation led by the Wall Street Journal revealed that Google circumvented Safariâ€™s cookie disable function by â€œsubmitting an invisible form to Googleâ€.
â€œThe 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,â€ according to Associated Press. â€œGoogle had promised not to mislead people about its privacy practices.â€
Arguing the fine is negligible for a company of Googleâ€™s reputation, FTC consumer watchdog attorney Gary Reback believes it should have been at least $3 billion, as the result of an estimate that 190 million Safari users were affected.
Although Google insisted it did not bypass Safariâ€™s settings intentionally, the FTC believes the fine is a milestone marking the largest imposed fine for a civil violation. Saying itâ€™s “fair, adequate and reasonable,” the judge approved the fine late Friday.
With Google “glad the court agreed there was no merit to this challenge,” the fine amounts to some five hours of revenue.