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Google Pays Paltry $17 Million Dollar Fee to Settle Allegations of Consumer Privacy Violations

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

It may sound like a lot, but for the largest internet firm, it’s not.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced Monday the internet giant will pay 36 states and the District of Columbia the $17 million to settle allegations of consumer tracking.

The allegations claimed between June 1st 2011 and February 15, 2012, Google altered privacy codings in it’s Double Click advertising program to allow third-parties to put tracking cookies on Apple’s Safari web browser.

According to the AG’s office:

“Google altered its coding to circumvent the Safari default privacy settings, without consumers’ knowledge or consent. This allowed advertisers to set third-party cookies on consumers’ Safari browsers, despite the fact those users believed their privacy settings protected them.”

Through its DoubleClick advertising platform, Google’s search engine generates revenue by helping to transmit third-party advertising ‘cookies’ — small files set in Internet users’ Web browsers — that allow advertisers to gather information about those users. Depending on the type of cookie, the information collected could include the user’s web surfing habits and location.

Apple’s Safari Web browser (“Safari”) generally blocks third-party cookies in its default privacy settings, including cookies used by DoubleClick to track a consumer’s browsing history.”

 The practice was discontinued after media reports detailed the process.   The class-action suit claimed Google violated consumer protection and computer privacy laws.   Washington state will receive $610,600 of the $17 million.  It will be used for civil penalties, attorney fees and future consumer education projects.

 Google has previously been sued, or in hot water, over privacy issues with it’s Street View program, and recently accused of allowing the NSA (National Security Agency) access to servers with private consumer information.

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