SACRAMENTO — California will receive $1 million as its share of a $17 million multistate payment from Google Inc. to settle complaints that the Mountain View search engine improperly tracked users of Apple Safari web browsers over two years.
Google admitted to no wrongdoing in the 11-page agreement. But state attorneys general said that between June 1, 2011 and Feb. 15, 2012 Google quietly altered its advertising platform to circumvent a Safari default setting that blocks third-party cookies.
The $17 million payment to 37 states and the District of Columbia follows Google’s agreement in 2012 to pay a $22.5 million civil penalty to settle a similar complaint brought by the Federal Trade Commission.
A spokesman for Attorney General Kamala Harris declined to comment on the multistate settlement that will bring California $1.072 million.
“Consumers should be able to know whether there are other eyes surfing the web with them,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a prepared statement. “By tracking millions of people without their knowledge, Google violated not only their privacy, but also their trust.”
Google spokeswoman Nadja Blagojevic said in an email that Google is “pleased” to have reached an agreement with the attorneys general.
“We work hard to get privacy right at Google and have taken steps to remove the ad cookies, which collected no personal information, from Apple’s browsers,” she said.
Under terms of the settlement, Google agreed not to override browsers’ cookie-blocking settings except when necessary to detect or prevent fraud. The company also agreed to create a “cookie page” to explain what data-collecting cookies are and how users can manage them.
One consumer advocacy group criticized the multistate payment for being too low to truly penalize the giant search engine.
“When these Google guys get caught with their fingers in the cookie jar, they just buy their way out of trouble,” John Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s privacy project director, said in a press release.
Working for Google on the multistate agreement were Kent Walker, the company’s senior vice president and general counsel, and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati partner Michael Rubin. Deputy Attorney General Adam Miller represented California in the negotiations, according to Harris’ office.
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