Microsoft: Google Is Bypassing Internet Explorer Privacy Settings, Too

microsoft-google-logosMore trouble for Google today on the privacy front: Just days after revelations that Google is ignoring privacy settings on Apple’s Safari web browser, Microsoft says Google is doing the same thing with Internet Explorer.

Microsoft shares its findings in a blog post this morning:

When the IE team heard that Google had bypassed user privacy settings on Safari, we asked ourselves a simple question: is Google circumventing the privacy preferences of Internet Explorer users too? We’ve discovered the answer is yes: Google is employing similar methods to get around the default privacy protections in IE and track IE users with cookies.

… (snip) …

We’ve found that Google bypasses the P3P Privacy Protection feature in IE. The result is similar to the recent reports of Google’s circumvention of privacy protections in Apple’s Safari Web browser, even though the actual bypass mechanism Google uses is different.

Microsoft goes on to present some very technical evidence related to something called a P3P Compact Policy Statement, which is an official web standards recommendation by the World Wide Web Consoritum. But, Microsoft says, “Google utilizes a nuance in the P3P specification that has the effect of bypassing user preferences about cookies.”

Microsoft says that it’s “asked them [Google] to commit to honoring P3P privacy settings for users of all browsers.” Micrsoft is also encouraging IE users to upgrade to IE9, which it says isn’t vulnerable to the type of bypass that Google is doing.

We’ve reached out to Google for comment and will update this article if/when we get a reply.

No doubt that Congress and consumer/privacy groups will add this to their list of questions when Google explains its behavior to U.S. lawmakers.

Postscript: See our follow-up story, Google: “Impractical” To Comply With IE’s P3P Privacy Controls & We’re Not Alone Ignoring Them

Related Topics: Channel: Content Marketing | Google: Privacy | Legal: Privacy | Microsoft: Internet Explorer | Microsoft: Privacy


About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Marketing Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • Anonymous

    What excuse will Google use this time?

    “It was just an accident, we were trying to get something else working”- oh, nope used that one for bypassing Safari settings (presumably they were also accidentally reading the cookies).

    “It was done by a contractor we didn’t know it was happening” – oh, nope used that one when they were wholesale ripping off data and lying to customers of a Kenyan startup.

    “We didn’t realise we were collecting that information” – nope used that one as well when they were capturing wifi traffic using their StreetView cars.

    I’d suggest “the dog ate it” or “big boys made me do it”.

  • Anonymous

    You do realize everyone does this, and it’s just Internet Explorer that’s stupidly broken? Facebook bypasses the privacy settings too.

    Microsoft just made it so stupidly difficult to do the right thing, so nobody does it. All the major websites do this.

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