Google had no comment Tuesday specifically on a report in
the Wall Street Journal that it was close to a $22 million-plus
settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, which has been investigating
whether Google's use of ad cookies violated its settlement last year of
allegations its Google
Buzz violated "privacy promises" to consumers.
An FTC source said no settlement had been struck at press time. An FTC
spokesperson had no comment on the report.
The issue was whether Google
had bypassed privacy settings in Apple's Safari browser to track users for
targeted ad purposes.
But Google did respond generally to the suggestion it had not sufficiently
protected online user's privacy.
"We do set the highest standards of privacy and security for our
users," the company said in a statement. "The FTC is focused on a
2009 help center page published more than two years before our consent decree,
and a year before Apple changed its cookie-handling policy. We have now changed
that page and taken steps to remove the ad cookies, which collected no personal
information, from Apple's browsers."
The FTC has been under pressure from the Hill to make a call on whether Google
did violate its consent decree. But if a settlement has been struck, that could
mean Google does not have to acknowledge whether or not that was the case. Such
settlements often include that the company settling the complaint does not
admit any guilt.
As part of the Buzz settlement, Google is barred from "misrepresenting the
privacy or confidentiality of individuals' information."