Google reaches $17 million settlement with states; nearly $250K for Nebraska

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Posted: Monday, November 18, 2013 12:00 am

Nov. 18 (Bloomberg) – Google Inc. reached a $17 million settlement with 37 U.S. states over its circumvention of privacy settings for some Internet users.

Nebraska will receive nearly $250,000. Iowa will receive more than $275,000.

The company, based in Mountain View, California, overrode default settings for Apple Inc.'s Safari browser that blocked cookies, small pieces of code that can allow companies to monitor consumer web surfing, according to the office of the New York attorney general.

Google, owner of the world's most popular search engine, allowed cookies to be set on consumers' browsers through its DoubleClick advertising platform, according to the attorney general's office.

The company halted that coding method in February 2012 after the practice was reported in the media. Google agreed to changes including no longer deploying that type of code unless necessary to address fraud, security or technical issues and improving the information it provides to consumers about its use of cookies, according to the attorney general's office.

“Privacy is paramount,” Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning said in a statement. “If a business improperly intrudes on consumers' privacy, the Attorney General's Office will pursue them.”

"Consumers should be able to know whether there are other eyes surfing the web with them," New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement. "By tracking millions of people without their knowledge, Google violated not only their privacy, but also their trust."

The settlement comprises 37 states and Washington, D.C.

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said in a news release Monday that the money will go into the state's consumer education and litigation fund.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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