Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) has agreed to pay $5.5 million as settlement for a lawsuit filed by Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) claiming that Google hacked into the Safari browser.
The company agreed to settle the case on Monday so that it can avoid lengthy and expensive hearings that might end up demanding more payment that the amount settled. Apple filed the lawsuit in 2012 after discovering that Alphabet subsidiary Google had been tracking the browsing habits of Safari users. The browser had inbuilt privacy measures used to block some cookies and files that retail information that allow third parties to keep track of the user’s browsing activities.
Google was accused of hacking into the browser and bypassing the security measures put in place by Apple so that it can acquire user data which it, in turn, used to boost ad revenue. According to the lawsuit, the company used behaviorally targeted ads based on the information that it harvested from users. The lawsuit also claims that Google’s actions affected millions of people. Google did not plead guilty to the claims. However, the settlement deal provides an opportunity for the case to be terminated without Google having to accept that it indeed hacked into the Safari browser.
The settlement amount will be used to cater for the legal fees and the rest will be distributed to six privacy and technology groups. The case caused a lot of controversy over how far tech companies go to violate users by tracking their online behavior. Google had to pay $17 million as a privacy violation penalty to the state attorney general. The company was also required to pay a fine of w$22.5 million to the Federal Trade Commission due to the violation of a previous settlement.
Despite agreeing to pay the penalties, Google maintained that it was not guilty of the user data violation counts brought against it. The Settlement on Monday is expected to be the last class action suit of that kind brought against the company.
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