Google had no comment Tuesday specifically on a report in
the Wall Street Journal that it was
close to a $22 million-plus settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, which
has been investigating whether Google's use of ad cookies violated its
settlement last year of allegations its Google Buzz violated "privacy
promises" to consumers.
An FTC source said no settlement had been struck at press
time. An FTC spokesperson had no comment on the report.
The issue was whether Google had bypassed privacy settings
in Apple's Safari browser
to track users for targeted ad purposes.
But Google did respond generally to the suggestion it had
not sufficiently protected online user's privacy.
"We do set the highest standards of privacy and
security for our users," the company said in a statement. "The FTC is
focused on a 2009 help center page published more than two years before our
consent decree, and a year before Apple changed its cookie-handling policy. We
have now changed that page and taken steps to remove the ad cookies, which
collected no personal information, from Apple's browsers."
The FTC has been under pressure from the Hill to make a call
on whether Google did violate its consent decree. But if a settlement has been
struck, that could mean Google does not have to acknowledge whether or not that
was the case. Such settlements often include that the company settling the
complaint does not admit any guilt.
As part of the Buzz settlement, Google is barred from
"misrepresenting the privacy or confidentiality of individuals' information."