Google fined $17M for putting cookies on iOS devices because iOS normally block cookies

BY Stefan Constantinescu

Published 19 Nov 2013

Apple’s in the “let’s put shiny things in a box and sell them with a 40% margins” business. Meanwhile, Google is in the “let’s track every little thing you do on the internet in order so we can show you better ads” business. Apple knows this, and so does Google, which is why Safari on iOS is set to block cookies by default. Cookies are the little files that most browsers store locally to keep track of people. Google being Google, they figured out how to force Safari to use cookies, despite Safari being set to disable them.

This naughty behavior has landed Google in deep trouble with nearly 40 out of America’s 50 states, and the company will have to pay a fine to the tune of $17 million. That’s honestly a drop in the bucket and will likely not stop Google from pulling this sort of stunt again. Let me remind you that there are plenty of other countries where iOS devices are sold, so what’s to stop Google from doing this in Italy or France or the UK?

Anyway, what does Google have to say about all this?

“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.”

Wonderful. Google tries so hard to do things right, but sometimes they fumble, so let’s all forgive them, shall we? This sort of screw up first, on purpose, and then apologize once enough people complain attitude is rife in California. Facebook does it whenever they change their privacy policy. Apple did it with the iPhone 4 (free bumpers!). And I’m pretty sure the list goes on and on.