Consumer Watchdog fails to increase Google fine

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Google is facing the biggest fine ever imposed by the Federal Communications Commission, a massive $22.5 million.

But the company's pretty happy with this: a judge has rejected a call from consumer rights group Consumer watchdog to make the fine higher still.

The fine was set back in August, in response to the discovery that Google was placing tracking cookies on the computers of Safari users who visited sites on its DoubeClick advertising network - despite telling them otherwise.

The tracking was considered particularly egregious, as Google had made firm promises to represent its tracking accurately, following an October 2011 saettlement relating to the Buzz social network.

Consumer Watchdog promptly appealed the size of the fine.

But San Francisco District Judge Susan Illston said she found the fine "fair, adequate and reasonable". Consumers hadn't lost enough - or Google profited enough - to merit any more, she said.

Consumer Watchdog isn't giving up its assault on Google, though. Late last week, it called on the FTC to file an antitrust suit against the company and force it to divest its Motorola Mobility subsidiary, spin off Search, and undergo the same sort of regulation as a public utility.

"The Federal Trade Commission’s role in keeping Google’s abuses in check is essential," wrote John M Simpson, Consumer Watchdog's Privacy Project director. "The internet is too important to allow an unregulated monopolist to dominate it."