Google in August 2011 agreed to pay a $500 million fine over AdWords sales that allowed U.S. residents to access ads for online Canadian pharmacies, according to the Department of Justice.
 
Separately, Google in October 2011 pledged not to "misrepresent" its privacy practices to consumers in a settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, resolving charges that the company used deceptive tactics and violated its own privacy promises to consumers when it launched its social network, Google Buzz, in 2010. The settlement barred Google from future privacy misrepresentations, requires it to implement a comprehensive privacy program, and calls for regular, independent privacy audits for the next 20 years. Another privacy violation could result in major civil penalties and—if Google is shown to have intentionally circumvented privacy settings of consumers—it's conceivable that criminal charges against the company or its executives could be filed by the government.
 
Google issued a statement saying the Journal is mischaracterizing a technical snafu and reportedly disabled the errant code after being contacted by a Journal reporter. Considering the technical intricacy of the allegations, this is outstanding journalism.

 

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