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Google Violated Apple Users’ Privacy: Study

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Google Inc. (GOOG) violated users’ privacy on Apple Inc.’s Safari Web browser, Stanford University research found, adding to a drumbeat of criticism from consumer groups and lawmakers over how the search giant tracks people online.

Using its DoubleClick ad network, Google has been dodging a privacy setting in Safari, the primary Web browser on the iPhone, iPad and Apple computers, according to a report today by Stanford’s Security Lab and the Center for Internet and Society. The study named three other companies -- Vibrant Media Inc., Media Innovation Group LLC and PointRoll Inc. -- that also evaded privacy settings.

“Apple’s Safari Web browser is configured to block third- party cookies by default,” Stanford graduate student Jonathan Mayer said in the report. “Google and Vibrant Media intentionally circumvent Safari’s privacy feature.”

Google, the world’s biggest Internet-search company, has drawn regulatory scrutiny and pressure from consumer advocates for the way it handles personal information. Last year it agreed to settle claims with the Federal Trade Commission that Google used deceptive tactics and violated its own privacy policies when it introduced its Buzz social-networking service in 2010.

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