Google faces new investigations over Safari tracking

U.S. and European regulators are investigating Google's bypass of user privacy settings in Apple's Web browser, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Google has found itself in the middle of another privacy probe.

The Web giant is under investigation by U.S. and European regulators for bypassing user privacy settings in Apple's Safari Web browser, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. In a practice it has since ceased, Google used special code to get around Safari's privacy controls in order to track users on computers and mobile devices.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is reportedly looking into whether the Google's action violated a 2011 settlement agreement between the agency and the company over privacy concerns related to the launch of Google Buzz. Meanwhile, the French Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertés has added the technique to its ongoing probe of Google's privacy policy changes.

A Google representative said the company had already taken steps to correct the situation.

"We will of course cooperate with any officials who have questions," a Google spokesperson told CNET. "But it's important to remember that we didn't anticipate this would happen, and we have been removing these advertising cookies from Safari browsers."

Google previously told CNET that the company used known functionality in Safari to provide features that Google users had enabled. Further, the advertising cookies generated did not collect personal information, Google added.

Google has been involved in a number of privacy tussles over the years, the most recent of which involves a revision of its privacy policy to grant it explicit rights to "combine personal information" across multiple products and services. The European Union wants that change suspended, and the Electronic Privacy Information Center recently filed a lawsuit against the FTC in an attempt to force it to prevent Google from implementing the planned change.

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