Monday, November 18, 2013

Schmidt: Google settlement protects consumers’ online privacy

TOPEKA, KAN. – A settlement reached today with Google will help protect consumers from unknowingly transmitting data to the popular search engine, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced.

Schmidt, along with the attorneys general of 36 other states and the District of Columbia, reached an agreement with Google concerning its practice of setting advertising cookies on Apple’s Safari web browser during 2011 and 2012.

During that time period, Google had been offering consumers the ability to opt out of third-party advertising cookies by installing an opt-out plugin.

On its website describing the plugin, Google stated that consumers using the Safari web browser did not need the plugin, because the browser’s default settings blocked all third-party cookies. Google later took active steps to circumvent Safari’s default settings to allow third-party cookies without the consumers’ knowledge or consent.

“Consumers have a right to opt out of having their Internet activity tracked by advertisers,” Schmidt said. “Today’s settlement protects consumers from unknowingly transmitting personal information and ensures that they have the tools to control the amount of information they share with online advertisers.”

In the settlement, Google agreed to change its practices by not deploying code designed to override a browser’s cookie-blocking settings.

The company also agreed not to misrepresent or omit information to consumers about how they can use any Google product or service to manage how Google serves advertisements to their Internet browser.

Google must also improve the information it provides to consumers regarding advertising cookies.