Connecticut, 36 Other States Reach $17M Settlement with Google
Resolve allegations that company circumvented Safari privacy settings
HARTFORD – Connecticut, with 36 other states and the District of Columbia, has reached a $17 million agreement with Google, Inc. to resolve allegations that the company circumvented default privacy settings pertaining to cookie blocking in Safari Web browsers, Attorney General George Jepsen and state Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner William M. Rubenstein announced today.
Through its DoubleClick advertising platform, Google facilitates the transmission of third-party advertising cookies – small files set in Internet users’ Web browsers that allow advertisers to gather information about users’ Internet browsing. Apple’s Safari Web browser is designed to block third-party cookies as its default privacy setting, including cookies used by DoubleClick.
The states alleged that from June 1, 2011, until February 15, 2012, Google circumvented Safari’s default privacy settings, without consumers’ knowledge and consent, enabling advertisers to set third-party cookies on users’ browsers. According to the states, these acts contradicted Google’s assurances to consumers that Safari’s default privacy settings would block such third-party cookies.
“Google represented that consumers could avoid third-party cookies being placed in their Safari Web browsers simply by relying on the browser’s default settings,” Attorney General Jepsen said. “This settlement resolves allegations that, while giving these very assurances, Google was actually bypassing those same privacy settings and placing advertisers’ cookies on consumers’ Safari browsers, without their knowledge or consent.”
“Consumers deserve to know when their internet activity is being used by others and should be able to take steps to prevent it,” Commissioner Rubenstein said. “We will not countenance deception that undermines the ability of consumers to choose for themselves the information they would like to share.”
Connecticut’s share of the multistate settlement, as a member of the executive committee that negotiated the settlement, is $535,312.
The settlement also prohibits Google from misrepresenting or omitting material facts about how consumers can use Google’s Ad Settings tool or any other Google product, service or tool to directly manage how Google serves advertisements to their browsers. Additionally, Google must maintain systems configured to instruct Safari Web browsers to expire offending cookies.
The multistate investigation into Google’s alleged circumvention of Safari’s default privacy settings began in February 2012.
Assistant Attorney General Michele Lucan, a member of the Attorney General’s Privacy Task Force, and Assistant Attorney General Matthew Fitzsimmons, head of the Task Force, assisted the Attorney General with this matter.
Office of the Attorney General:
Department of Consumer Protection: