Microsoft had earlier charged Google with bypassing privacy protections in Internet Explorer Microsoft's privacy protection feature in Internet Explorer, known as P3P, is impractical to comply with while providing modern web functionality such as cookie-based features, Google said Monday in response to an accusation from Microsoft that Google had bypassed privacy protections in Internet Explorer.
Google is already facing allegations that the company circumvented privacy settings in Apple's Safari browser to plant cookies on users.
IE by default blocks third-party cookies unless a site presents to the browser a P3P Compact Policy Statement describing how the site will use the cookie and pledging not to track the user. Third party cookies are those dropped by domains other than the one in the user's browser address bar.
Google's senior vice president of communications and policy, Rachel Whetstone, countered in an emailed statement that Microsoft's policy is "widely non-operational".
Newer cookie-based features are broken by the Microsoft implementation in IE, Google said. These include features such as Face book "Like" buttons, the ability to sign-in to websites using a Google account, and hundreds more modern web services. It is well known that it is impractical to comply with Microsoft's request while providing this web functionality, Google added.
Google said it has been open about its approach on P3P, and so have other websites including Face book.
The cookies Google uses to secure and authenticate an user's Google account, and store his preferences, may be served from a
different domain than the website the user is visiting, Google said on its support site. "The P3P protocol was not designed with situations like these in mind. As a result, we've inserted a link into our cookies that directs users to a page where they can learn more about the privacy practices associated with these cookies," it added.
Facebook social plug-in are built and designed to protect privacy by providing users with social experiences on other websites without requiring any additional cookies to be set, the company said in a statement. "Therefore, our P3P policy is not intended to enable us to set additional cookies or to track users," it added.
Face book said that P3P, which was developed many years ago, is not effective in describing the practices of a modern social networking service and platform. Face book has instead posted a public notice describing its practices which is consistent with Section 3.2 relating to policies in the P3P specification, it said.
Google said last week that it did not intentionally install tracking cookies in response to a report about alleged privacy violations of Safari users. "We used known Safari functionality to provide features that signed-in Google users had enabled," Whetstone said in a statement last week. "It's important to stress that these advertising cookies do not collect personal information."
Three lawmakers from the U.S. House of Representatives have asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate if the allegations of privacy violations of Safari users by Google is in violation of a consent agreement the company reached with the FTC last year.
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