The Wall Street Journal published a story today revealing that Google has undermined the tracking restrictions on the Safari browser in order to conduct browsing surveillance on unsuspecting users. A company the size of Google overriding browsers’ Do Not Track functions has very troubling implications for the internet community. Conducting surveillance on internet and mobile phone users that have expressly chosen a browser that disables tracking is particularly nefarious. While Google wasn’t alone in this practice, they were alone among technology companies and that is a big problem.
The internet community understands we need to do better to protect consumer privacy. As the mobile apps trade association, we’re working with app developers, mostly small businesses, who are unfamiliar with the intricacies of privacy rules, but want to learn so they can comply. Google knows the rules and simply chose not to follow them in this case. The ongoing irony is that these missteps, intentional or otherwise, invite regulatory action that doesn’t hurt Google, but makes it harder for small business competitors to survive.