Google in hot water over Safari cookies

Google might have to pay the FTC $10 million for breaching privacy on Apple’s Safari web browser.

The fine would be the first by the FTC for a violation of internet privacy and is apparently based on an allegation that Google deceived consumers when it planted cookies on Safari, bypassing Apple software’s privacy settings.

According to Bloomberg, what appears to have got the FTC’s goat is that by bypassing Safari’s built-in privacy protections, Google could lob targeted advertising at users of Safari.

Google claimed that it “didn’t anticipate this would happen” and that it was removing the files since discovering the slip.

However, it was not dealt with until it was spotted by Stanford researcher Jonathan Mayer which makes many suspect it was a cunning plan all along.

It is not certain if European regulators will also want to wade into Google. They are already probing Google more broadly on its privacy policy and sent a detailed questionnaire to the company in March. It is fairly likely that EU regulators will also add this to the list of things it wants to hit Google with. After all, with the EU debt crisis – and the Euro slumping – it needs new sources of income and a billion dollar anti-trust fine will run the EU administration for at least 20 minutes.