Following a Wall Street Journal report that the Internet giant Google was bypassing the privacy settings of people who use Apple’s web browser Safari on phones and computers, three congressmen have asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the problem .
The lawmakers want to determine if Google’s action “constitutes a violation” of a privacy settlement Google and the Federal Trade Commission signed last year. Any breaches of the settlement could mean as much as $16,000 per violation per day.
The crux of the complaints is a page on Google’s site that told Safari users that they could depend on the browser’s settings to prevent tracking by Google. Google had been previously barred from misrepresenting its privacy practices to users.
““Google falsely told Safari users that they could control the collection of data…when in fact Google was circumventing the preference,” wrote John Simpson, the privacy-project director with the advocacy group Consumer Watchdog. Another advocacy group, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, also made similar charges.
Google said it has stopped its practices and deleted the associated tracking files, after being contacted by the Journal. “We are taking immediate steps to address their concerns,” a Google spokesman said of the congressmen’s letter.”
Google said that they were happy to answer any questions the regulators or others have.
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