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Google To Pay Record Fine for Violating FTC Order, "Tricking the System"

Today the FTC announced that Google will pay a record $22.5 million fine, the largest FTC penalty ever for violation of a Commission order. Google settled charges that it that it “misrepresented to users of Apple Inc.’s Safari Internet browser that it would not place tracking ‘cookies’ or serve targeted ads to those users,” clearly violating an earlier settlement the company reached with the FTC. In a separate blog post, the FTC explained that Google used computer programming code to “trick” the system into allowing the cookies.

Google’s disregard for its past agreements with governments and legal obligations, much less the trust of Internet users, is unfortunately a familiar pattern of bad behavior. Less than a year ago, Google signed a 20-year consent decree with the FTC  agreeing not to misrepresent its practices to consumers after its Google Buzz launch. A few months before that, Google reached a $500 million settlement with the U.S. Justice Department for knowingly enabling the illegal importation and sale of pharmaceuticals through keyword advertising. In 2010, Google’s Street View project collected personal information from home wireless networks without notifying users or even asking their permission. This spring, the Federal Communications Commission fined Google $25,000 for obstructing and delaying the agency’s Street View investigation.

The list of Google’s violations of trust and broken promises to users, governments and the courts continues to grow. As Google faces investigations around the world, this latest fine continues to beg the question, “Can Google be trusted?”