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In February, The Wall Street Journal reported that Google was tracking Safari users who had selected Do Not Track, a fact which had originally been discovered by a Stanford researcher. The technology giant said it discontinued the practice after the Journal story appeared.
'Known Safari Functionality'
A Google Help page, which had said that Safari users could avoid tracking by utilizing Do Not Track, was taken down at about the same time. Google has said that the page was posted in 2009, before Apple modified the way Safari manages cookies.
According to the Journal, Google code had allowed it to avoid Safari's privacy setting by exploiting what the technology company has called "a known Safari functionality," in order to install cookies that aided in the display of ads with a +1 button. The +1 button, a tie-in to the Google+ social network, was designed to allow viewers to indicate they liked the ad by clicking the button. But clicking the button also allowed additional cookies to be installed, and thus wider tracking to occur.
Google has said that the +1 ads were intended to add value for users who were also logged in to the Google+ network. It also has contended that the depositing of additional cookies after the +1 button was clicked was a mistake, and that, at any rate, none of the cookies captured individually identifiable information.