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Google Reaches Privacy Settlement With States

3:58 PM, Nov 18, 2013   |    comments
(AP file)
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By Edward C. Baig, USA TODAY

NEW YORK -- Google reached a $17 million settlement with 36 states and the District of Columbia over a privacy case involving the use of third party "cookies" in Apple's Safari Web browsers. Cookies are the small files used by advertisers to collect certain data about Web surfers.

Attorney generals from the states involved in the case alleged that between June 1, 2011 and Feb. 15, 2012, Google circumvented default privacy settings in Safari that violated state consumer protection laws and related computer privacy laws, thus giving Web surfers the false impression that their default privacy settings would block the cookies.

"Consumers' default privacy settings were circumvented without their knowledge," Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said in a statement.

South Carolina is among the states included in this settlement, and News 19 reached out to the SC Attorney General's office. We learned that our state will receive $313,231.70, but we do not yet know how these funds will be applied or to what they will go towards. We will pass along that information as it becomes available.

According to a release put out by DeWine's office, Google as part of the settlement also agreed to:

• Not override a browser's cookie-blocking settings without the consumer's consent unless it is necessary to address fraud, security or technical issues.

• Not misrepresent or omit material information to consumers about how they can use any particular Google product, service or tool to directly manage how Google serves advertisements to their browsers.

• Improve the information it provides to consumers regarding cookies, their purposes, and how consumers can manage cookies while using Google's products or services.

• Maintain systems designed to ensure the expiration of the third-party cookies set on Safari Web browsers during the time the default settings had been circumvented.

Google spokesperson Nadja Blagojevic, in a statement, said the search giant has "taken steps to remove the ad cookies, which collected no personal information, from Apple's browsers."



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