Google may soon find itself in the ugly side of a legal investigation. An international group of government agencies is inquiring reports by Apple that the search engine giant used cookies as a method of tracking people’s activities on their computers. Apple’s web browser, Safari, has a privacy agreement which bans that type of tracking software.
The software was used as a method of targeting advertising to individual user. It not only affected computers, but iPads and iPhones were targeted as well.
“We will of course cooperate with any officials who have questions,” a Google spokeswoman said. “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 Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is looking into Google’s practices and whether they are in violation of last year’s legal settlement where Google stated that they would not “misrepresent” its privacy practice with consumers, reports the Wall Street Journal.
According to the FTC, the fine for violating the agreement it $16,000 per violation, per day. Considering the millions of users using Apple’s browser, the bill can really add up.
Across the Atlantic Ocean, Europe’s investigation is being led by the French Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés, or CNIL, which fined Google last year for collecting passwords when Google vehicles were gathering information for the Street View feature in Google maps.
The majority of Google’s revenue comes from ad sales, a practice that the company has made a premium for several advertisers by targeting ads to specific users.
Google’s recent jump into social networking came with Google Plus, a service that the company has pushed into all corners of the organization, said former Google executive James Whittaker. The company publicly stated that it had bypassed some of Apple’s privacy setting when implementing Google Plus’ “1+” button into the Safari browser.