Largest-ever penalty by FTC likely for Google, source says

SAN FRANCISCO — Google is poised to pay a $22.5 million fine to resolve allegations that it broke a privacy promise by secretly tracking millions of Web surfers who rely on Apple’s Safari browser, according to a person familiar with the settlement.

The person who spoke Tuesday to The Associated Press asked not to be identified because the fine has yet to be approved by the Federal Trade Commission, which oversees online privacy issues in the U.S.

If approved by the FTC’s five commissioners, the $22.5 million penalty would be the largest the agency has ever imposed on a single company.

Even so, the fine won’t cause Google Inc. much financial pain. With $49 billion in the bank, the Internet’s search and advertising leader is expected to generate revenue this year of about $46 billion, which means the company should bring in enough money to cover the fine in slightly more than four hours.

But the circumstances surrounding the case may renew questions about the sincerity of Google’s “Don’t Be Evil” motto and raise doubts about the company’s credibility as it grapples with broader regulatory investigations into whether it has been abusing its influential position on the Internet to stifle competition.

“We do set the highest standards of privacy and security for our users,” Google said in a statement Tuesday. The company, based in Mountain View, Calif., emphasized that the tracking technology inserted into the Safari browser didn’t collect any personal information.

Google will not acknowledge any wrongdoing under the proposed settlement, according to the person familiar with the terms.


Worries on Europe, earnings send stocks tumbling again

NEW YORK — U.S. stocks fell for a fourth session Tuesday as the U.S. dollar advanced because of uncertainty over Europe, and as engine maker Cummins Inc. reduced its sales forecast, adding to concerns about second-quarter earnings.

“Industrials are getting hammered here,” said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Harris Private Bank, who chalked up the intensified losses to Cummins’ reduced outlook.

The Dow Jones industrial average shed 83.17 points, or 0.7 percent, to 12,653.12, led by a 4.1 percent drop in Alcoa Inc. shares after the aluminum producer said late Monday it had swung to a second-quarter loss.

The S&P 500 index fell 10.99 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,341.47. Cummins shares dropped 8.9 percent after the maker of natural-gas engines forecast flat revenue this year, instead of a prior forecast of 10 percent growth. It blamed a global economic slowdown.

The Nasdaq composite shed 29.44 points, or 1 percent, to 2,902.33, its third session in the red.


Job openings in U.S. close to a four-year high in May

WASHINGTON — U.S. employers advertised more jobs in May than April, a hopeful sign after three months of weak hiring.

Job openings rose to a seasonally adjusted 3.6 million, the Labor Department said Tuesday. That’s up from 3.4 million in April. It’s also the second-highest level in nearly four years, just behind March’s 3.7 million.

A rise in openings could mean hiring will pick up in the coming months. It typically takes one to three months to fill a job.