The rebuke resolves
around allegations that Google duped millions of Web surfers using the
Safari browser into believing their online activities couldn't be
tracked by the company as long as they didn't change the browser's
privacy settings. That assurance was posted on Google's website earlier
this year, even as the Internet search leader was inserting computer
coding that bypassed Safari's automatic settings and enabled the company
to peer into the online lives of the browser's users.
concluded that the contradiction between Google's stealth tracking and
its privacy assurances to Safari users violated a vow the company made
in another settlement with the agency last year. Google had promised not
to mislead people about its privacy practices.
While the FTC
hailed its actions as proof of its resolve to protect the public
interest, a consumer-rights group attacked the settlement as an example
of ineffectual regulation. The group, Consumer Watchdog, is trying to
bring more attention to the issue as the FTC wraps up a separate
investigation into complaints that Google has been stifling competition
and raising online ad prices by highlight its own services in its
influential search engine.
Illston, though, found that the fine and other facets of the settlement were all "fair, adequate and reasonable."
"We're glad the court agreed there was no merit to this challenge," Google said in a statement.