In their suit, the states claimed that Google altered its DoubleClick advertising platform from June 1, 2011 to Feb. 15, 2012 to get around Safari’s default privacy settings without notifying users.
As a result, this enabled advertisers to gather information about people via third-party cookies, unbeknownst to Safari users.
Google changed its DoubleClick settings in February of last year.
“Privacy is paramount,” Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in a statement. “If a business improperly intrudes on consumers’ privacy, the Attorney General’s Office will pursue them.”
Washington will use the $610,600 for civil penalties, attorneys’ fees and future consumer protection education. As part of the settlement, Google also agreed to the following:
- Refrain from using code to override a browser’s cookie blocking settings without the consumer’s consent unless it is necessary to detect or prevent fraud, security or technical issues.
- Not misrepresent or omit information about how Google connects advertisements to consumers’ browsers.
- Improve provided information regarding cookies, their purposes, and how they can be managed by consumers using Google’s products or services and tools.
- Maintain systems designed to ensure the expiration of the third-party cookies set on Safari Web browsers during the period that Google had circumvented the default settings.