Google Puts “Cookiegate” To Bed As More Legal Battles Loom

The incident informally known as “Safarigate” or “Cookiegate” is now behind Google. On Friday, a court approved Google’s $22.5 million settlement with the FTC. Some Google critics decried the settlement as having little impact on Google.

The episode began in February of this year, when the Wall Street Journal discovered that Google (and others such as Gannett’s PointRoll) were circumventing mobile Safari’s default “no third party cookies” settings in order to track user behaviors. Google contended it was simply trying to make its “+1 buttons” work on iOS.

The company argued nothing sinister was intended. The Wall Street Journal characterized Google’s actions as “tricking” Safari.

The FTC investigated and determined that Google’s actions violated the terms of an earlier settlement over the “Buzz” social network in which Google had agreed not to act in ways that were “deceptive” toward consumers and contradicted its own privacy policies.

Despite the formal conclusion of this incident, online and mobile privacy will continue to be major issues for Google and others as we head into 2013. However, as the end of 2012 approaches, the legal question that looms largest is whether Google will face formal antitrust cases in the US and Europe.

While the rules and legal requirements to prove antitrust violations differ somewhat in the US and Europe, authorities on both sides of the Atlantic hope to gain settlement concessions that will avoid protracted and resource-intensive legal battles against Google. It’s quite likely that one or both investigations will settle and avoid litigation.

One reason is that regulators’ legal cases against Google are far from airtight. In addition, bruising legal battles that don’t result in “wins” would expose FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz and EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia to potentially intense professional criticism. Accordingly politics, personality and personal reputation are thus probably playing a complicating role behind the scenes in what otherwise would be challenging legal calculation anyway.

Related Topics: Channel: Industry | Google: Critics | Google: International | Google: Legal | Legal: Antitrust | Legal: General | Legal: Privacy | Top News


About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn

Marketing Day:

Get the top marketing stories daily!  


Other ways to share:

Read before commenting! We welcome constructive comments and allow any that meet our common sense criteria. This means being respectful and polite to others. It means providing helpful information that contributes to a story or discussion. It means leaving links only that substantially add further to a discussion. Comments using foul language, being disrespectful to others or otherwise violating what we believe are common sense standards of discussion will be deleted. You can read more about our comments policy here.

Comments are closed.

Get Our News, Everywhere!

Daily Email:

Follow Marketing Land on Twitter @marketingland Like Marketing Land on Facebook Follow Marketing Land on Google+ Subscribe to Our Feed! Join our LinkedIn Group Check out our Tumblr! See us on Pinterest


Click to watch SMX conference video

Join us at one of our SMX or MarTech events:

United States


Australia & China

Learn more about: SMX | MarTech

Free Daily Marketing News!

Marketing Day is a once-per-day newsletter update - sign up below and get the news delivered to you!