Google has now modified its practices, which never involved any personal data, after it was confronted with the news by the Wall Street Journal.
Apple’s privacy settings for its iPhone prevent companies from using the ‘cookies’ that routinely track user behaviour and enable web services across the internet on desktop sites. Google and other advertisers used a well-known ‘workaround’ to make Apple’s Safari web browser behave differently, however.
Although an Apple official said: “We are working to put a stop” to the circumvention of Safari privacy settings, Google claims its practices have been “mischaracterised”.
Rachel Whetstone, Google’s head of communications and public policy, said that “The Journal mischaracterizes what happened and why. We used known Safari functionality to provide features that signed-in Google users had enabled. It’s important to stress that these advertising cookies do not collect personal information.”