Google Faces [Pounds Sterling]14.5m Fine in Privacy Claim; Internet Giant Snooped on iPhone and iPad Users

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Byline: From David Gardner in Los Angeles

GOOGLE will reportedly be fined [pounds sterling]14.5million for spying on millions of Apple customers.

The company is at the centre of yet another privacy row, having been accused of bypassing web security settings.

It allegedly tricked Apple's Safari browser - found on iPhones, iPads and Mac computers - into dropping its automatic privacy safeguards, allowing it to snoop on users across the globe, including those in Britain.

The predicted fine would be the biggest ever levied on a single company by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

With Google reporting a net income of [pounds sterling]1.8billion in the first quarter of this year, it would take the company just over 17 hours to earn enough to pay it off.

The firm, which generates billions from advertising, is still under investigation in the UK after it gathered personal data from homes' unencrypted wireless networks while collecting information for its Street View maps.

It also signed a legal settlement with US regulators last year pledging not to 'misrepresent' its internet monitoring activities.

Companies such as Google track browsing trends to demonstrate how well their adverts attract users' attention.

However, Safari, the most popular browser on mobile devices, is designed to prevent firms from being able to see people's preferences and search choices.

It does this by barring the installation of small files, known as cookies - but according to the Wall Street Journal, which revealed the practice earlier this year, Google exploited a loophole that made an exception for adverts that invited interaction, such as those featuring forms to fill out. …