Google has agreed to pay the Federal Trade Commission $22.5 million for spying on users of the Safari browser. The company was secretly tracking millions of web users in order to understand their browsing behavior, search tendencies and shopping habits.
The company was punished for breaking through the safeguards put in place by Apple and tracking users without their permission. The company was using “cookies,” or small pieces of code that allow them to follow users around the Internet. Safari blocks this kind of activity.
Jonathan Mayer, a researcher at Stanford University’s Security Lab and the Center for Internet and Society was the first to find the security breach and report it to authorities. FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said that the fine sends “a clear message to all companies under an FTC privacy order.”
“No matter how big or small, all companies must abide by FTC orders against them and keep their privacy promises to consumers, or they will end up paying many times what it would have cost to comply in the first place,” Leibowitz said in a statement.
Given that Google made $12.2 billion in revenue last quarter, we doubt that they are going to notice a measly $22 million.