Connecticut Gets $500,000 Google Settlement

Connecticut will share a $17 million settlement with 36 other states and the District of Columbia over charges that Google circumvented Safari privacy settings.

by Lee Howard, McClatchy News Service / November 19, 2013

Connecticut will receive more than $500,000 as part of a multistate settlement with Google Inc. over charges that the Internet giant circumvented privacy settings on the Safari web browser, allowing advertisers to access information about consumers' web-surfing habits.

Connecticut will share a $17 million agreement with 36 other states and the District of Columbia, state Attorney General George Jepsen and state Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner William M. Rubenstein announced today. Connecticut's portion of the settlement is $535,312.

Allegations cover a period between June 2011 and February 2012 when Google, through its DoubleClick advertising platform, was accused in a lawsuit of depositing third-party files known as "cookies" onto users' web browsers without their knowledge. The move, according to the suit, was contrary to the company's assurances that Safari -- a product of Apple Inc. -- would be able to ensure privacy of customers who used the browser's default settings.

"Consumers deserve to know when their Internet activity is being used by others and should be able to take steps to prevent it," Rubenstein said in a statement. "We will not countenance deception that undermines the ability of consumers to choose for themselves the information they would like to share."

As part of the settlement, Google has been prohibited from overriding browser settings without consumers' consent, unless fraud prevention or a security or technical issue requires the company to do so. In addition, Google will be required over the next five years to provide updates about how it is employing cookies.

Google also has been barred from fudging on instructions to consumers about how its advertising system works and will be required to continue helping consumers who want to kill off cookies placed on their browsers.

Other states involved in the settlement were Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, lllinois, 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 and Wisconsin.

(c) 2013 The Day (New London, Conn.)