The U.S. consumer watchdog agency has imposed its biggest fine ever — on Google, the popular Internet search engine.
The Federal Trade Commission fined the American technology giant $22.5 million Thursday as settlement of charges that it violated people’s privacy even after pledging not to do so.
The consumer agency said that for several months last year and into 2012, Google installed an advertising tracking cookie on the computers of Safari Web browser users so it could monitor what Internet sites the users visited.
The head of the agency, Jon Leibowitz, said that Google is now paying many times what it would have if it had complied with its agreement to not track the Internet usage.
Once the tracking was discovered by a Stanford University researcher, Google withdrew the intrusive technology. But the company did not admit any wrongdoing in settling the claim with the government.