More 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