Google has entered into a $17 million settlement with 37 states and the District of Columbia after the company was found to circumvent privacy settings in Apple’s Safari browser. Between 2011 and 2012, Google secretly stored web tracking cookies in Safari, overriding Apple’s default settings that forbid third-party cookies from being installed. “By tracking millions of people without their knowledge, Google violated not only their privacy, but also their trust,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement. His state will receive $899,580 of the settlement money.
Last year, Google agreed to pay another settlement of $22.5 million in response to similar complaints from the FTC. Users have also tried unsuccessfully to sue the company directly over the privacy blunder; a judge dismissed their class action lawsuit last month. For its part, Google has always maintained that the cookie incident was a mistake, one that the company quickly corrected after it was publicized. “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,” the company said in its statement. Google’s FTC settlement terms allow the company to avoid admitting any wrongdoing.