Google Sued by Apple Safari Users in UK

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2013-01-28 Print this article Print

In July 2012, Google reached a record $22.5 million settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to resolve the charges that Google bypassed the Safari browser privacy settings. The settlement was criticized by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, an industry group, in a statement as "a dangerously overbroad precedent that will chill Internet innovation and hurt online startups."

The FTC charged that for several months in 2011 and 2012, Google placed a certain advertising tracking cookie on the computers of Safari users who visited sites within Google's DoubleClick advertising network. It charged that Google placed the cookies on consumers' computers in many cases by circumventing the Safari browser's default cookie-blocking setting.

Placing the cookies on the computers of Safari browsers violated the terms of an October 2011 settlement between Google and the FTC over deceptive practices related to the launch of Google Buzz, the late, unlamented original attempt by Google to compete with Facebook in the social media space. Google later abandoned Buzz and went to work on its successor, Google +, which launched in June 2011.

The Safari suit is at least the second one filed against Google in the U.K. this month.

Earlier in January, British shopping comparison Website FoundEm sued Google for allegedly helping its own business by steering customers away from competitors in search results.

That lawsuit surfaced just a week after the FTC cleared Google of similar conduct in the United States, and as European regulators continued to conduct their own investigation. In the United States, Google essentially received a hand slap from the FTC after a 19-month investigation into allegations that the company had been manipulating its search algorithms to favor Google's results over competitors.

The FTC ruled that not enough evidence existed to prove allegations from some competitors that Google had manipulated its search algorithms to harm competing Websites and unfairly promote its own competing vertical properties. Instead, the company entered into a voluntary agreement with the FTC to change some of its other business practices.


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