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Google reportedly mulling $22.5 million settlement of privacy charges.

The Wall Street Journal (7/9, Angwin) reported that Google is close to a settlement deal that would see it pay $22.5 million to end charges that it secretly bypassed the privacy settings of millions of Apple users. If finalized, the settlement would be the largest ever for the Federal trade Commission to levy on a single company. The Journal, which in February first reported the alleged privacy violations, cited “officials briefed on the settlement terms” as the source for the settlement story. The charges claim Google used special computer code to fool Apple’s Safari browser into allowing it to monitor users who had blocked such tracking. Last fall, Google had signed a 20-year consent decree with the agency pledging not to misrepresent its privacy practices to consumers, with violations punishable by a $16,000 per day penalty. The Journal adds that while the company has negotiated the settlement in recent weeks, it is still awaiting review by agency commissioners and might still be changed. A group of state attorneys-general is also looking into Google’s actions in connection with the Safari program; a spokesman for New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said that “investigation is ongoing.”