Google's civil penalty of $22.5 million confirmed

A US federal judge in San Francisco on 16 November approved the $22.5 million civil penalty imposed on Google, reports Associated Press. This penalty was announced in August as a settlement between the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Google Inc.

Agreeing to pay the civil penalty settles the FTC claim that individuals, when using Google and Apple’s Safari browser, were being tracked by the firm's cookies despite their privacy settings. Google has agreed to disable by February 2014 all of these cookies it has placed on computers.

Consumer groups had been calling for a larger penalty, but the District Judge said that the agreement was "substantively fair, adequate and reasonable". The issue at stake was whether Google had violated its 2011 settlement with the FTC, which related to the launch of Google Buzz and stipulated that Google must not make privacy misrepresentations in the future.

The current settlement is the largest ever FTC penalty for violation of a Commission Order.