The apparent incoming settlement between Google and the FTC is giving privacy groups a reason to celebrate today, as news of the possible $22.5 million deal is making headlines as the largest ever of its kind. Google, as many of you already know, is suspected of circumventing Safari's do-not-track settings and installing cookies on users' computers anyway, a revelation that did not sit too well with those who would prefer to have their surfing as private as possible. With a settlement likely in sight, privacy groups took time today to applaud the hefty fine the FTC imposed on Google for apparently ignoring Safari's settings.
It's true that having to pay $22.5 million is nothing to Google, but these privacy groups argue that it's more about the precedent set during the high-profile case than it is about the money. "The FTC fine's impact on Google can't just be measured in dollars," Center for Digital Democracy executive director Jeffrey Chester tells Computerworld. "It sends a strong signal to Google users that the company is still failing to do right by their privacy. If they don't do a better job protecting privacy, it will face larger fines and greater political consequences."
Still, Google says that whatever violation occurred was purely unintentional and declined to comment on the possible settlement. Whether Google is guilty in this case or not, the hope is that the massive company realizes that it is not immune to public outcry, and that it would look to prevent these problems from happening in the first place from here on out.
As always, privacy will remain a hot topic regardless of how this case is settled. Here's hoping that the FTC's hard line against Google will scare off other companies which would knowingly disregard user privacy, but whether that will actually happen remains to be seen. For more information on Google's privacy controversy, check out the story timeline below!