Bryan Cohen Nov. 19, 2013, 8:03pm

HARTFORD, Conn. (Legal Newsline) - Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen announced a $17 million multi-state settlement on Monday between Google Inc., Connecticut, 36 other states and the District of Columbia to resolve allegations Google circumvented web browser privacy settings.

The states alleged that Google circumvented Apple's Safari web browser's default privacy settings without consumers' knowledge and consent to allow advertisers to set third-party cookies on their browsers. This practice allegedly contradicted Google's assurances that Safari's default privacy settings would block third-party cookies.

"Google represented that consumers could avoid third-party cookies being placed in their Safari web browsers simply by relying on the browser's default settings," Jepsen said. "This settlement resolves allegations that, while giving these very assurances, Google was actually bypassing those same privacy settings and placing advertisers' cookies on consumers' Safari browsers, without their knowledge or consent."

The settlement prohibits Google from employing a functionality that uses javascript to override a web browser's cookie-blocking settings without the consumer's consent, unless it is to prevent fraud or address other technical or security issues. For the next five years, Google must provide consolidated information about the cookies and how they are used.

Google is also prohibited from omitting or misrepresenting material facts about how consumers can use the company's Ad Settings tool or any other Google product to directly manage how Google provides advertisements to their browsers. Google must also maintain systems configured to instruct Safari web browsers to expire cookies.

Under the terms of the agreement, Connecticut will receive $535,312 of the $17 million settlement.

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