updated 07:21 pm EDT, Tue July 31, 2012
No admission of liability
Officials within the US Federal Trade Commission have reportedly agreed to allow Google to pay a settlement for circumventing privacy settings in Apple's Safari browser. Corroborating earlier reports, unnamed sources have told Reuters the company will have to pay $22.5 million to avoid further proceedings, however it will not be forced to admit liability.
The search giant was accused of implementing code that bypassed Safari's default security provisions in an attempt to enable Google+ users to take advantage of the +1 button. The company initially argued that initial reports had mischaracterized the method, which was limited to signed-in users and associated with cookies that did not collect personal information.
Critics point out that Google's strategy had allowed its own DoubleClick ad network to track user activity without providing any notification of such actions, though the company later disabled the function.
The $22.5 million settlement represents the largest single fine served by the FTC. The penalty is believed to be comparatively high due to a consent decree that Google agreed to last year, barring the company from misrepresenting its privacy practices to its users.
The FTC has yet to formally confirm the settlement, however an announcement is expected within days.