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Google bypassed Apple's privacy settings to track web-browsing habits of iPhone users

London, Sat, 18 Feb 2012 ANI

London, Feb 18 (ANI): Google has come under fire after it emerged that the Internet search giant tracked the web-browsing habits of millions of iPhone users without their consent by bypassing privacy settings built into Apple's Safari web browser.


Google wrote programming code that circumvented the Apple iPhone's default privacy settings and allowed it to monitor iPhone behaviour just as it would on the mainstream internet.


Apple's privacy settings for its iPhone prevent companies from using the 'cookies' that routinely track user behaviour and enable web services across the Internet on desktop sites.


Google and other advertisers, however, used a well-known 'workaround' to make Apple's Safari web browser behave differently, The Telegraph reports.


The breach was uncovered by a Stanford researcher, Jonathan Mayer, after he found that adverts on 23 of the top 100 websites installed a tracking code on an iPhone browser, compared to 22 on a test computer.


Once activated by the websites in question, the code then allows the tracking of user behaviour across the web, he revealed.


The cookies, however, do not collect personal information and are essential to some of Google's free services that are popular online, the paper said.


According to the paper, Google has now modified its practices, which never involved any personal data, after it was confronted with the news by the Wall Street Journal.


"The Journal mischaracterizes what happened and why. We used known Safari functionality to provide features that signed-in Google users had enabled. It's important to stress that these advertising cookies do not collect personal information," Rachel Whetstone, Google's head of communications and public policy, said. (ANI)


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