On August 9, 2012, the FTC announced that Google agreed to pay a record $22.5 million civil penalty to settle charges that it made misrepresentations to users of the Safari Internet browser when Google represented that it would not place cookies or serve targeted ads to those users. In doing so, Google violated an earlier privacy settlement it had with the FTC.
FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said “[t]he record setting penalty in this matter sends a clear message to all companies under an FTC privacy order. . . “[n]o matter how big or small, all companies must abide by FTC orders against them and keep their privacy promises to consumers, or they will end up paying many times what it would have cost to comply in the first place.”
The FTC’s aggressive enforcement is expected to continue and it is important that businesses review their privacy policies to ensure that the policies have not become dated and no longer represent the current data collection and maintenance practices of the business.
The FTC press release can be viewed at http://ftc.gov/opa/2012/08/google.shtm