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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Google Shells Out Millions for Safari Privacy Settlement

Posted By on Tue, Nov 19, 2013 at 7:16 AM

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Internet behemoth Google agreed to fork over millions Monday in a legal settlement over its improper spying on users, thus providing priceless publicity for Google's amazing spying ability.

Just how amazing is it? Well. Let's just say Google managed to slither past a roadblock put out by its competitor, Apple, to keep outsiders from tracking users' browsing habits. Using a loophole in its DoubleClick ad software, it managed to ambush Apple consumers with targeted ads, even after Apple had promised them insularity. It was tantamount to setting up a discount kiosk inside another person's department store.

And now Google will pay $17 million to 37 states, and the District of Columbia, to atone -- just a hair less than the $22 million it disgorged last year to settle a complaint with the US Federal Trade Commission.

So here's the million-dollar question: Is it really worth $17 million for Google to advertise how effectively it can be used to spy on people?

According to recent earnings reports, Google raked in about $14.9 billion this quarter. By that metric, it pulls about $60 billion a year -- or about 1.5 billion times the income of a regular working stiff with a $40,000 annual salary.

Assuming, conservatively, that Google worked a regular 8-hour day, then it would only take the company two hours and 51 minutes to recoup the $17 million settlement money. For the $40,000 annual wage earner, that's equivalent to a $57 fine.

It's a small price for subliminal advertising.

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About The Author

Rachel Swan

Rachel Swan

Rachel Swan was a staff writer at SF Weekly from 2013 to 2015. In previous lives she was a music editor, IP hack, and tutor of Cal athletes.


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