Google continues to buy its way out of privacy problems

by John Simpson, Consumer Watchdog

google-moneyGoogle’s $17 million settlement with states attorneys general demonstrates the Internet giant’s business strategy of doing whatever it wants and then buying its way out of trouble when caught breaking the rules. “Google hacked around the privacy settings on Apple’s Safari web browser, set tracking cookies and lied about what it was doing.  Now Google pays the states $17 million, doesn’t even apologize and claims it didn’t break the law,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project Director. “When these Google guys get caught with their fingers in the cookie jar, they just buy their way out of trouble.”

The settlement was with 36 states and the District of Columbia.  Earlier the Internet giant paid a $22.5 million penalty to the Federal Trade Commission in the case because its actions broke a consent agreement in the Buzz case reached after Google violated the privacy of Gmail users when it launched its ill-fated social network.

Google offered this statement on the deal with the states:

“We work hard to get privacy right at Google and have taken steps to remove the ad cookies, which collected no personal information, from Apple’s browsers. We’re pleased to have worked with the state attorneys general to reach this agreement.”

Consumer Watchdog disputed the Internet giant’s claim that it cares about privacy. “If Google cared a whit about your privacy, they would have apologized,” said Simpson. “They just view these penalties as a cost of doing business.”