Google will cooperate with any investigations into allegations that it bypassed privacy settings in Apple’s Safari browser, the company said, after a news report that both U.S. and E.U. officials are investigating the company.
A Google spokeswoman declined to confirm any investigations, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, but promised cooperation if there are inquiries.
“We will, of course, cooperate with any officials who have questions,” she added. Referring to the circumvention of privacy settings, the spokeswoman noted, “But it’s important to remember that we didn’t anticipate this would happen, and we have been removing these advertising cookies from Safari browsers.”
Violations of the FTC’s year-old privacy settlement, over Google’s blotched rollout of its Buzz social network, could lead to fines of US$16,000 per incident per day.
Representatives of the FTC and CNIL declined to comment on a possible investigation.
Google has maintained that its circumvention of Safari’s privacy controls was accidental. The company used known Safari functionality that signed-in Google users had enabled, said the spokeswoman.
“We created a temporary communication link between Safari browsers and Google’s servers, so that we could ascertain whether Safari users were also signed into Google, and had opted for personalized ads and other content,” she said. “However, the Safari browser contained functionality that then enabled other Google advertising cookies to be set on the browser.”