Attorney General Pam Bondi News Release
November 18, 2013
Media Contact: Whitney Ray
Phone: (850) 245-0150

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Attorney General Announces $17 Million Multistate Settlement with Google

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.–Attorney General Pam Bondi announced today that her office, along with attorneys general from 36 other states and the District of Columbia, entered into a $17 million settlement with Google Inc. concerning its setting of cookies on certain Safari Internet browsers. Through its DoubleClick advertising platform, Google facilitates the transmission of third-party advertising cookies, small files set in Internet users’ Web browsers that allow advertisers to gather information about users’ Internet browsing. Apple’s Safari Web browser is designed to block third-party cookies as its default privacy setting, including cookies used by DoubleClick. The states alleged that from June 1, 2011, until February 15, 2012, Google circumvented Safari’s default privacy settings without consumers’ knowledge and consent, enabling advertisers to set third-party cookies on users’ browsers. According to the states, these acts contradicted Google’s assurances to consumers that Safari’s default privacy settings would block such third-party cookies.

“As part of the settlement’s executive committee, my office worked tirelessly to ensure that Floridians’ Internet privacy is not compromised,” stated Attorney General Pam Bondi. “This settlement will protect Internet users from misrepresentation.”

Google disabled this coding method in February 2012 after the practice was widely reported on the Internet and in media.

The attorneys general allege that Google’s circumvention of the default privacy settings in Safari violates state consumer protection laws. In addition to paying $17 million, Google has agreed to injunctive relief that requires it to do the following:

        Not to deploy the type of code used here to override a browser’s cookie blocking settings without the consumer’s consent unless it is necessary to do so in order to detect, prevent or otherwise address fraud, security or technical issues.

        Not to misrepresent or omit material information to consumers about how they can use any particular Google product, service, or tool to directly manage how Google serves advertisements to their Browsers.

        To improve the information it provides to consumers regarding cookies, their purposes, and how they can be managed by consumers using Google’s products or services and tools.

        To maintain systems designed to ensure the expiration of the third-party cookies set on Safari Web browsers while their default settings had been circumvented.

Florida is part of a ten-state executive committee, which includes: Maryland, Connecticut, Illinois, Ohio, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Vermont and Washington. The multistate settlement also includes: Arizona, Arkansas, California, District of Columbia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin.