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Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) just lost one of its records when Facebook (Nasdaq: FB ) went public earlier this year. Up until then, the search giant's 2004 IPO was the biggest Internet IPO to date, but now that title belongs to Facebook.
Instead, Google is about to set a new record, but not a good one. According to The Wall Street Journal, Big G is nearing a settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and will pay the largest penalty ever required for a single company. The issue at the heart of the suit relates to Google's use of tracking cookies in Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL ) Safari Web browser to track users, with the FTC worried about privacy concerns.
The amount of the fine: $22.5 million. That's right, million with an "m," as in "Google won't even notice." With its cash stash of $49.3 billion at the end of last quarter, the search giant won't even flinch at forking over this measly $0.02 billion.
Rather, the relevance is continued scrutiny over Google's privacy practices, which have come under fire in recent years as the FTC continues to crack down across the board. Facebook's also taking careful notes, as its own privacy policies are heavily scrutinized as the largest social network on the planet.
In this particular case, Google was allegedly circumventing privacy settings in Safari and using tracking cookies even after users turned on a setting to block tracking. The practice was originally noticed by a Stanford researcher in February, and Google maintains that it was using known features to provide services to Google users who were signed in and that the ad cookies didn't collect any personal information.
It's not quite over yet for Google, as the European Union is also investigating Google's overall privacy policies, which went through a sweeping change earlier this year.
This fine may be a record, but you won't see Google bragging about this one.
One company that should be bragging, however, is Apple. The company is about to embark on a new level of growth following a number of key product announcements expected later this year. Read all about it in our new premium research report, written by our top technology analyst.