back to article Google faces WHOPPING FTC fine for Safari privacy gaffe

Google is reportedly going to be slapped with a bigger regulatory fine than the meagre one handed down to it from the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) late last week. According to Mercury News, which cites anonymous sources familiar with the confabs between the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Google, the search …

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Happy

Kick Them In The Balls

Google should be kicked in the balls for at lead a billion clams. If they don't then it won't mean a damn thing and they'll do it again.

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Anonymous Coward

I don't see what they did wrong? If the browser had a bug that allowed tracking when the user turned it off surely its apples fault?

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Silver badge

Yes indeed!

... and that's what Google said to themselves as they completed the design and looked forward to releasing it.

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Anonymous Coward

I agree...so both should be fined

I don't know the delivery/quality lifecycle for Safari add-ins etc but, as Apple love their walled gardens, I would suspect that Apple would have had to test it too in Safari, in which case they are also guilty, guilty, guilty (allegedly)!

Two big behemoths like this should really get a substantial unhappy slapping whenever they do this. It's not as if they don't have bandwidth/resources to put it through a proper quality inspection.

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Anonymous Coward

They released the code knowing the bug was there from what I can gather. That could be construed as malicious, that's what's being investigated, that and was it a deliberate act on Googles part or just another 'rogue' engineer?

In which case they'll say sorry and promise not to do it again. Again. I'd imagine

Should have Apple closed the loop hole? Probably,

I've tested software for a living in the past and as we all know, there's plenty of code that ships with bugs. Was this particular scenario tested for at apple? Dunno, it's possible that it wasn't. It's possible that it wasn't even thought of. As in it was an 'unknown unknown'

Let's see what the investigation turns up

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Anonymous Coward

They did it to IE users at around the same time

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/ie/archive/2012/02/20/google-bypassing-user-privacy-settings.aspx

I'd say deliberate and malicious. One browser might be a mistake. Two starts looking like company policy. It's well known that Google places little value on privacy

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Alert

Tracking a browser is actually dead easy.

It's possible to fingerprint a browser several times over. Take a look at http://panopticlick.eff.org/ - a website can detect the fonts you have installed, plugins, screen size - the list goes on. Even without Javascript enabled, things like the browser user agent and your IP may fingerprint you. See http://browserspy.dk as well - lots of ways to fingerprint browsers.

Regardless of if you browse in "private mode" or not, regardless of what browser you use, you are *easy* to track. And that's without ever touching Flash or Java, too.

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Just try

Please find a zero day cisco exploit and hack into FBI with your own ip. When agents arrive, tell them it was cisco's fault to ship router with unknown bug.

Can you really do it? Please!

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Devil

@AC its no wonder you're anonymous.

"I don't see what they did wrong? If the browser had a bug that allowed tracking when the user turned it off surely its apples fault?"

The fact that Google took an overt action to bypass the clear intent and wishes of the user. Meaning that regarded of the defect existence the end user had decided not to 'opt-in', Google still violated their privacy rights.

Its an overt act, clear mens rea (guilty mind), and a weak justification.

Since they were already on 'double secret probation', they will face heavy fines.

You care to estimate the number of devices potentially affected, at $16K max per day.

Yeah, millions even if the FTC doesn't give them the max penalty.

Is it 'Do no evil... ' or 'Do Know Evil...'

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Anonymous Coward

@ Anonymous: what Google did wrong..

If I have a defective lock on my door, it's still illegal to walk into my house.

Google knew damn well that people want their privacy, and exploited a bug to bypass that desire. In the UK you could consider this enough of an argument to have a chat with the police about violating the Computer Misuse Act.

This is like the Streetview WiFi gig - they will take as much as they can get away with, even if it isn't theirs to take.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @AC its no wonder you're anonymous.

You mention that Google took an overt action to bypass the clear intent and wishes of the user, and violated their privacy rights.

If I take an an overt action to bypass the clear intent and wishes of a company, and bypass their IP rights, I end up in jail.

Surely these are two very similar offences?

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Re: @AC its no wonder you're anonymous.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don't_be_evil

Not: "Do no evil."

Just saying. Getting your facts straight makes you more credible.

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Silver badge
Holmes

Re: @AC its no wonder you're anonymous.

yes, but then i couldn't play on the word 'know'...

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Anonymous Coward

Remind me: What is/was Google's motto?

Go on...................

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Remind me: What is/was Google's motto?

You mean the informal "Don't be evil" motto? I suspect that, even less formally, is the rest of the motto: "...unless there's a good chance we can slurp up lots of good data and get away with it (at least for a while)/blame someone else." After all, "we're only wittle...compared to the size of the universe".

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Re: Remind me: What is/was Google's motto?

I think it was: "Do no evil that people can find out about."

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It's still further than our lot got in prosecuting them. It's been a while, but I'm pretty sure that the Computer Misuse Act 2000 makes their little wi-fi slurp completely illegal, and on the scale they did it, someone should get put away. Nnnnope, never gonna happen.

But then again, it didn't with Phorm either, did it?

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Silver badge

Well that would be one way to onshore some of Google's revenues

There's a well known loophole in the US tax code that allows US companies to not pay US taxes on monies earned outside of the US until they repatriate it.

Unlike the War Driving... there is no 'ooops' factor. Clearly a lack of oversight.

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Vic
Silver badge

> I'm pretty sure that the Computer Misuse Act 2000 makes their little wi-fi slurp completely illegal

I'm pretty sure it doesn't.

The WiFi thing involved them capturing data that had been deliberately broadcast in the clear. Whilst there might have been a few things to ponder about the storage of that data, CMA is unlikely to feature.

But this case is entirely different - Google deliberately exploited a browser weakness in order to circumvent users' clearly-stated intent. Google deserves a bloody good slapping for that.

Vic.

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Unhappy

And to be fair and impartial to Google they should be the first amongst many to recieve a huge fine. Facebook and I believe even Microsoft were doing the same thing. Fines mounting to hundreds of million should be applied to any company that use this technique.

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Anonymous Coward

Murky News

A source of this article, Mercury News, has been knowingly violating the Federal Do Not Call List for quite some time. The FTC penalties and scope are similar to what Google is facing, so the Murky should be extra careful when speaking to anonymous sources.

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Pirate

What're people moaning about?

If you're stupid enough to run an open network you deserve everything you get. I'd give Google a pat on the back for this.

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Trollface

Re: What're people moaning about?

A for intentions

D for execution

Overall, subject must improve trolling skills before attempting the action again.

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Who did they annoy?

So, did they fail to provide Obamas administration with certain info when requested, or are they stepping on the toes of someone in the administration? Paranoid? Moi?...

We're clearly just doing what the Merkins tell us to do in putting some "pressure" on them on the east side of the pond, but why the pressure from the west side?

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