Google was penalized by the FTC for tracking Safari browser cookies even after users explicitly disabled the browser feature. The fine is rumored to be around $22.5 million, making it the largest penalty the U.S. Federal Trade Commission ever on a single company.
By means of a special computer code, Google was monitoring activities without prior consent. Although the company says it was inadvertent, users were not harmed during the process and the ad cookies were immediately removed after being reported by The Wall Street Journal.
The fine is still waiting for approval by FTC commissioners and could be revised before going public. The agreement signed in October 2011 by both the FTC and Google in which the search engine giant agreed not to violate user privacy practices stipulates that each violation will be fined $16,000 per day.
Google is no stranger to fines or settlements and this recent transgression could undermine usersâ€™ trust in the company. The European Union is running its own investigation to find out if Google complies with current privacy laws. Government actions could be taken against Google if the EU decides users are not explicitly made aware of how data is being tracked and used, as stipulated by European law.