Google Inc. has disabled a special computer-tracking code that had been bypassing the privacy settings of Safari, Apple Inc.'s widely used Web browser, enabling advertisers to monitor the Web-surfing of iPhone and computer users -- despite those users having clearly indicated they don't want to be monitored, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
After being contacted by the Journal, Google disabled the code.
The tracking code, similar versions of which were found to have been used by Vibrant Media Inc., WPP PLC's Media Innovation Group LLC and Gannett Co.'s PointRoll Inc., could enable monitoring in most websites.
Google, which said the advertising cookies don't collect personal information, removed language on Tuesday from one of its websites that assured Safari users they could count on its privacy settings to block tracking.
The disclosure of the Mountain View, Calif., company's tracking technique comes as the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has demanded that Apple, Google and their vendors do more to protect children using iPhones and other mobile devices to read or play games, Reuters reported.
With the explosive growth in mobile applications in the past few years, many consumer protections, including piracy and privacy disclosures, have not kept pace and need to be monitored, the FTC said in a report released Thursday.
Right now, it is almost impossible to figure out which apps collect data and what they do with it, FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said.