Google is set to pay a $22.5 million fine in relation to the discovery that it bypassed the privacy settings in Apple's Safari web browser, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Citing officials "briefed on the settlement terms", the WSJ reports that Google is about to pay the biggest fine ever imposed by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), after it was found that the company used special code to get around Safari's built-in privacy controls, allowing it to track users' Internet activity.
Although the issue has now been fixed, Google still denies snooping on users, saying its workaround was in place to make sure that people signed in with their Google accounts were seeing the appropriate personalized information.
The whopping $22.5 million fine results from Google's 20 year agreement with the FTC, promising to be open and honest about its privacy practices.
"The FTC is focused on a 2009 help center page published more than two years before our consent decree, and a year before Apple changed its cookie-handling policy," according to a statement from Google, although the company was unable to comment on the specifics of the investigation. "We have now changed that page and taken steps to remove the ad cookies, which collected no personal information, from Apple's browsers."
While the $22.5 million is indeed a big fine, it still pales in comparison to the $500 million Google forefeited last year to the Department of Justice for running ads for Canadian pharmacies illegally selling prescription and non-prescription drugs.