Google to write US watchdog a huge cheque -

US watchdog the FTC has barked that Google will have to pay a civil penalty of $22.5 million to settle charges that it bypassed the privacy settings of customers using Apple's Safari browser.

The FTC voted to approve a consent decree that will allow Google to settle the agency's investigation but admit no liability.

According to Reuters, an official announcement is expected within days.

It all started when Google was caught using "cookies" to trick Apple's Safari browser so Google could monitor users who had blocked such tracking.

Google has said it was all a mishtake and it collected no personal information like names, addresses or credit card data. However, the world has heard this before, when it claimed it had not stored Google map data when it actually did.

Settling in the US is a simple matter, but the search engine faces a trickier time in the European Union where privacy laws are a lot stricter.

The top search engine is also the subject of a wide-ranging antitrust investigation by the FTC and European regulators over accusations that it manipulated search results to favour its own products.

Google now says that it has taken steps to remove the ad cookies, which collected no personal information, from Apple's browsers.