Google's tracking sets off another privacy debate

San Francisco Chronicle


Google and several other advertising companies are bypassing the privacy settings in Apple's Safari browser, according to a report from a Stanford University researcher that set off a heated debate on Friday.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday night that the Mountain View search giant and others were "tracking the Web-browsing habits of people who intended for that kind of monitoring to be blocked." The story prompted an outcry from privacy advocates, and many tech and legal observers.

Chris Hoofnagle, a digital privacy expert at UC Berkeley's law school, said there's a corporate tone-deafness within the engineering-centric culture of Google that leads to these sorts of mistakes.

"To the engineer, cookie blocking appears to be a technical error that they should try to solve," he said. "It's very difficult for them to accept the frame that some people do not want this tracking."