Apple’s Safari browser has a default setting that blocks websites from setting third-party cookies that can be used to track users’ browsing behavior. But for about nine months in 2011-2012, Google’s DoubleClick ad serving service was able to get around that roadblock in order to provide user-specific ads to people with Apple computers and, more importantly, users of iPhones and iPads. Google has already been hit with a $22.5 million federal penalty, and today it has agreed to settle a multi-state claim for an additional $17 million. [More]
A new malware ad has managed to sneak its way onto Doubleclick’s DART ad publishing system, which means it’s been showing up on several legitimate websites, including Major League Baseball, The Economist, and Canada.com. It doesn’t require user interaction to be triggered—as soon as it’s loaded into the page, it initiates the redirect, closes your browser window, and starts bullying you to install “anti-virus” software. It will even attempt to download a virus-laden .exe file, naturally.
“The online advertising business is complex, but my message to you today is simple: Online advertising benefits consumers, promotes free speech, and helps small businesses succeed. Google’s acquisition of DoubleClick will help advance these goals while protecting consumer privacy and enabling greater innovation, competition, and growth.”