Google Reaches $17M Privacy Settlement with 37 States

Google Inc. has reached a $17 million settlement with 37 U.S. states over its circumvention of privacy settings for some Internet users.

The company, based in Mountain View, California, overrode default settings for Apple Inc.’s Safari browser that blocked cookies, small pieces of code that can allow companies to monitor consumer web surfing, according to the office of the New York attorney general.

Google, which owns the world’s most popular search engine, allowed cookies to be set on consumers’ browsers through its DoubleClick advertising platform, according to the attorney general’s office.

The search engine company halted that coding method in February 2012 after the practice was reported in the media. Google agreed to changes including no longer deploying that type of code unless necessary to address fraud, security or technical issues and improving the information it provides to consumers about its use of cookies, according to the attorney general’s office.

“Consumers should be able to know if there are other eyes surfing the web with them. By tracking millions without their knowledge, Google violated not only their privacy, but also their trust,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement today. “We must allow consumers the reassurance that they can browse the Internet safely and securely.”

The settlement included 37 states and Washington D.C.