Google to pay $5.5 million settlement amount to Apple for hacking its browser to collect user data
Looks like the legal mess between the Google and Apple may finally see a close, as the search giant on Monday agreed to pay $5.5 million settlement in a class action suit that accused it of “unfair, deceptive, and unlawful business practices.” Under the terms of the proposed settlement, filed in Delaware federal court, the deal will allow Google to deny any fault over the browser hacking.
It all started in 2012, when a Stanford researcher discovered that Google had used a tactic to track Safari users’ web browsing habits. In other words, it used to fool consumers’ browsers into accepting ad-tracking software by sneaking around Apple’s privacy settings.
Apple, which owns Safari, had built into it privacy controls that prevented certain cookies, small files that store information that can detect users or track their activities. However, Google got around the setting by camouflaging their cookies in a way that was capable for a loophole in the Safari settings.
According to the lawsuit, Google had wrongly used the collected consumer data to dramatically enhance its ad revenue. “Behaviorally targeted advertisements based on a user’s tracked internet activity generally sell for at least twice as much as non-targeted, run-of-network ads,” the suit said.
The settlement agreement mentioned that millions of people throughout the U.S. were affected by Google’s actions. (You can read a copy of the settlement posted by Fortune). However, the affected members of the plaintiff class won’t be receiving any of the settlement money. Some of the money is expected to go for legal fees and settlement expenses, while the remaining will go to six technology and privacy groups including the Center for Internet & Society at Stanford and the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology.
While the parties involved had reached for a settlement in June, but the deal was approved only on August 29 by U.S. District Court in Delaware. Neither Google nor the lawyers for the plaintiffs have commented on the settlement.