Google Tracked Users Via Their iPhones [REPORT]

Google Tracked Users Via Their iPhones [REPORT]:

Google and other companies have overridden the iPhone‘s privacy settings to monitor users’ web-browsing habits, according to a report.

The Wall Street Journal found that Google was using a “special computer code” that tricked Apple’s Safari browser into tracking users’ behaviors. Safari has built-in protections against such tracking.

The report, which was based on an observation by Stanford researcher Jonathan Mayer and confirmed by the WSJ‘s technical advisor, Ashkan Soltani, prompted Google to disable its code. Soltani found that 23 of the top 100 websites installed Google’s tracking code on Safari.

In addition to Google, Vibrant media, Media Innovation Group and PointRoll were found to be using “similar techniques,” according to the report.

Reps from Google could not be reached for comment. The WSJ report includes a quote from the company: “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.” An Apple official told the publication that the company is “working to put a stop” to efforts to disable Safari privacy settings.

Google’s handling of users’ privacy has come under scrutiny before. In November, Google settled with the FTC over a privacy-related probe that requires the company submit to a bi-annual review from a third-party oversight board for the next 20 years. Google also tweaked its privacy policy in January. The new policy was designed to let users know that data from all Google products — including Google+, search and YouTube — will be treated as one set of data.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, ymgerman

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