Google has agreed to pay a $22.5 million penalty to settle FTC privacy charges that the search giant ignored user settings within Apple's Safari browser. The figure, rumored for some time now, is the largest fee the agency has ever collected for such a violation. Google violated a prior privacy agreement with the FTC earlier this year when it bypassed browser settings by placing cookies on a user's computer — even if they had been specifically disabled in settings.
"The record setting penalty in this matter sends a clear message to all companies under an FTC privacy order," said FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz of the agreement. ""No matter how big or small, all companies must abide by FTC orders against them and keep their privacy promises to consumers, or they will end up paying many times what it would have cost to comply in the first place."
Google took advantage of its DoubleClick ad network to deposit cookies capable of tracking users’ activity (and displaying targeted advertising) across various websites, which led to an uproar of privacy concerns. As significant as the financial punishment may sound, the Wall Street Journal previously calculated the search giant made that much in revenue every 5 hours last year. With the deal now official, Google can move past this embarrassing snafu and concentrate its efforts on those new search features.