Google allegedly tracked iPhone users by cheating Safari

(CBS) - Apple iPhone users have unknowingly had their web browsing tracked by tricking Safari with a loophole that let Google install cookies.

Apple's web browser Safari typically blocks third-cookies by default. But, it does allow cookies to be installed on by sites where two-way communication happens - online forms, for example.

A report by Wall Street Journal says that Google and other advertising companies added a code to some ads "that made Safari think that a person was submitting an invisible form to Google. Safari would then let Google install a cookie on the phone or computer."

According to the Journal's technical adviser Ashkan Soltani, found that ads on 22 out of 100 websites installed a Google tracking code on desktop browsers and 23 on iPhone browsers.

"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," Google said in a statement given to the Journal.

Google has since disabled the code after the Journal inquired about the browser loophole. Apple says a fix is in the works.


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