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 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”

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?

  1. A. Sheeple says:

    Giant superpowerful megacorporations are good. Giant superpowerful megacorporations love me. Giant superpowerful megacorporations would never-ever-ever do anything bad. Praise Jesus. God bless America.

    And MY favorite giant superpowerful megacorporation is BETTER than YOUR favorite giant superpowerful megacorporation. So, nyah!

  2. Meh, until they can answer the question, “where, the fuck, are my keys?” I won’t be impressed.

  3. Grey says:

    Whatever happened to “Don’t be evil”?

    • vdiv says:

      No, no. “Don’t be evil!” applies to everyone else. Isn’t this what malware does — exploiting weaknesses in software for reasons not agreed to by the user? Can we finally agree that Google produces malware?

  4. orchidcup says:

    That does it for me.

    I am going to cancel my Gmail subscription along with Google Voice, Google Reader, Google Scholar, Google Earth, Google Calendar, Google Documents, Google News, Google Translate, Google Earth, YouTube, and Picasa,

    I am going back to pen and paper.

    I’ll show them …

  5. deowll says:

    While it does appear that Google in it’s own words ended up doing rather more than it meant to do I’m not concerned about it.

    My questions are:

    Why is anyone using Safari?

    Why doesn’t Apple block this known security hole?

    I doubt if Google is the only organization to make use of the hole. It isn’t new. It’s been known for some time.

  6. blah blah blah says:

    Time after time Google is in the news over privacy issues. Why do people continue to use Google services?

  7. DrWally says:

    uhhh….Apple promoted it’s software as being dependably secure, except it wasn’t. Microsoft continues to promote it software as being dependably secure, except it isn’t.

    Whether you think Google was wrong to exploit an opening or not, the message should be simple to everyone: Nothing is really secure if it is on the network. Nothing. Not Ever.

    It is the new cyber-reality — like it or not, you are not going to change it. (Well, maybe that pencil-and-paper dude…)

  8. Likes2LOL says:

    Lord Acton had it right back in 1887: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

    The folks at Google appear severely addicted to collecting data on computer users, registered or not — maybe they have other purposes besides serving “relevant” ads and improving our browsing experiences?

    At least this time Google didn’t try to pretend that their circumventing the browser security settings was accidental, like they did when they got caught collecting Wi-Fi data with their Street View cars – yeah, right!

    It’s official now: Google’s gone Evil, over to the Dark Side. I wonder what else they’re doing that we don’t even know about yet…

  9. President Amabo (& my wife Chewbacca) (threaded comment systems are for retards) says:

    What’s the big deal? Last week, I couldn’t find my car keys. I asked Google and it said “behind your couch on the left side.” It was right and I made it to work on time. All hail Google.

    OK, in all seriousness, no one has a right to know anything about my surfing habits – not even me. We need to institute the death penalty for privacy violations.

  10. Cap'nKangaroo says:

    And Google still doesn’t know half of what your ISP knows about you.

  11. Skeptic says:

    Google is in this for the money. So why does anything they do surprise you?

    They were caught, so IMO the system is still working.

  12. After giving this further consideration and we discussed this in our prayer group this morning – Google should collectively be kicked in the nuts.

  13. Semantics says:

    Safari users should be suing Apple for their false advertising that all their software is safe and secure and thank Google for pointing out that this is a blatant lie.

  14. Hmeyers2 says:

    ^ Two apple haters sitting
    | in a tree. K I S S I N G.

  15. Hmeyers2 says:

    Jesus and Easter Bunny love me too.