Google has come under attack for violating users’ privacy and ignoring their wishes after admitting that it intentionally circumvented security settings in Apple’s Safari browser to track users on both desktop computers and iPhones.
A number of other advertisers exploited the loophole it had created to track those users too.
“Our data suggests that millions of users may have been affected,” Jonathan Mayer, the independent researcher at Stanford University who discovered the workaround by the search giant, told the Guardian.
To get around Safari’s blocking, the Wall Street Journal explains, Google put code onto some of its ads served by DoubleClick’s servers at doubleclick.net to fool the Safari browser into thinking the user was interacting with DoubleClick.
But, the EFF notes: “That had the side effect of completely undoing all of Safari’s protections against doubleclick.net.”
That meant that other DoubleClick cookies, including the principal tracking one which Safari would normally block, were allowed.
“Like a balloon popped with a pinprick, all of Safari’s protections against DoubleClick were gone,” the EFF said.
A big deal? Has Google gone too far?