It seems the Federal Trade Commission has finally located its cojones, at least when it comes to Google. According to the Wall Street Journal, the federales have decided to fine Google $22.5 million for ignoring the Do Not Track privacy settings of Safari browsers and leaving DoubleClick tracking cookies behind on their hard drives.
Google claims that bypassing Safari's anti-cookie settings was "inadvertent." Sound familiar? That's exactly how Google initially described hoovering up of some 600GB worth of data from unprotected Wi-Fi networks -- before it was discovered that this Wi-Fi spying was quite deliberate and quite deliberately ignored by multiple people on its Street View team.
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On one hand, $22.5 million is the largest penalty the FTC has ever levied on anyone. On the other, it also represents 0.0006 percent of Google's 2011 revenue of $38 billion (according to Google Calculator, natch).
For comparison's sake, let's say you're a professional making a comfortable salary of $100,000. That FTC fine would set you back a whopping $60. It's essentially a parking ticket.
The FTC could have fined Google up to $16,000 per violation per day, according to its charter. Let's say for easy math Safari has 5 percent of the U.S. browser market, or about 12 million users. The FTC could have fined Google $192 billion per day. That would certainly get Larry and Sergey's attention.
The problem is that, as Joe Stalin once said about the Pope, the FTC lacks tanks. To wring that kind of coin out of somebody, you really need a couple-three divisions of tanks to get your point across.