Google has reportedly been caught bypassing privacy settings that Apple has in place on the web browser it uses on the iPhone and Mac computers. Google isn’t alone in bypassing the privacy settings reports the Wall Street Journal. Apparently, several other advertising firms have been caught doing this as well. Google and others are reportedly using special code that tricks the Apple Safari browser into allowing the monitoring of a user online.
The code Google used for tracking was discovered recently by a researcher from Stanford named Jonathan Mayer. The WSJ also independently confirmed that Google was using the tracking code via an outside advisor named Ashkan Soltani. The WSJ’s outside advisor found 22 of the top 100 websites had installed Google’s tracking code on a test computer and that 23 different sites install the same code on the iPhone browser.
The scary part is that according to the researcher once the code is activated on the mobile device or the computer it allows Google to track the user across the majority websites online. Three major online ad companies are also found to use the same technique, including Vibrant Media, Media Innovation Group, and PointRoll. I feel some serious backlash coming for Google TThe WSJ reports that the findings appear to contradict Google’s instructions to Safari users on how to avoid being tracked. Google has since removed language in those instructions that told users that they could rely on Safari’s privacy settings to avoid being tracked by Google. Google issued a statement that you can see below.
The Journal mischaracterizes what happened and why. We used known Safari functionality to provide features that signed-in Google users had enabled. It’s important to stress that these advertising cookies do not collect personal information.