Tuesday, November 26, 2013, by Christina Wheaton
On Monday, November 18, 2013, Google announced a $17 million dollar settlement to be paid out to thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia. The settlement follows a record breaking $22.5 million dollar fine issued by the Federal Trade Commission against Google in August of 2012 regarding the same conduct.
“[M]isrepresenting that tracking will not occur, when that is not the case, is unacceptable.”
Attorney generals from the thirty-seven states alleged that between June 2011 and February 2012, Google’s actions violated state consumer protection and computer piracy laws. On Monday, the case was settled for $17 million. In a statement Monday, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman asserted that “[c]onsumers should be able to know whether there are other eyes surfing the Web with them.” Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen agreed, emphasizing that “misrepresenting that tracking will not occur, when that is not the case, is unacceptable.”
According to a release issued by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office, as part of the settlement Google has agreed not to circumvent browser default settings without consumer consent. The settlement also includes a requirement that the company maintain a page devoted to cookies, and providing consumers with information regarding cookies, for the next five years. Google is also required to refrain from making any statements that misrepresent its online tracking methods, and honor the default settings in Web browsers.
The $17 million settlement will be divided between: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.