The Journal’s research found that this “special code” was present in 22 of the top 100 websites when browsing from a computer, and 23 sites when using the iPhone’s browser. The publication notes that “once the coding was activated, it could enable Google tracking across the vast majority of websites.”
The Mountain View-based company has maintained its innocence, claiming its advertising cookies do not collect personal information. “The Journal mischaracterizes what happened and why. We used known Safari functionality to provide features that signed-in Google users had enabled. It’s important to stress that these advertising cookies do not collect personal information,” responded a Google representative.
Vibrant Media, Media Innovation Group and PointRoll all employed a similar code for tracking. Out of all the companies, Google has the largest market share, delivering Internet ads that were viewed at least once by 93% of all U.S. Web users in December. Apple reached out to The Journal and informed the publication that the company is “working to put a stop” to codes that bypass Safari’s privacy settings.