The Washington Post

Google facing new privacy probes over Safari tracker, report says

Google is reportedly facing new investigations in the United States and Europe over its admission that it was using code to bypass privacy settings on Apple’s Safari browser.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that the Federal Trade Commission is looking into whether Google’s Safari actions violated its settlement with the government, which included a promise not to “misrepresent” its approach to privacy. The French data protection authority CNIL, which is investigating Google for possible anticompetitive actions, is also said to be addressing the Safari issue in its probe.

The FTC declined to comment on the report.

Last month, the search engine giant admitted that it had linked Safari browsers to its servers to see if its account holders were signed in to their requested services. According to the company, however, additional Google cookies were inadvertently set on users’ browsers, which was discovered by Stanford graduate student Jonathan Mayer. The Wall Street Journal published Mayer’s findings, and Google then said that it had disabled the code..

Google says it has been removing the cookies that it had placed on users’ machines through the Safari browser.

The company did not confirm the new investigations in a statement given to The Washington Post Friday, saying only: “We will of course cooperate with any officials who have questions. But it’s important to remember that that we didn’t anticipate this would happen, and we have been removing these advertising cookies from Safari browsers.”

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.

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