Google Agrees to Destroy Data Records in Settlement Over Private Browsing Lawsuit

Google Agrees to Destroy Data Records in Settlement Over Private Browsing Lawsuit

Key Points:

  • Google settled a lawsuit alleging privacy violations related to tracking users’ internet activity during private browsing sessions.
  • Google maintains that it does not associate data with individual users during private browsing sessions and commits to deleting non-personalized data.
  • Plaintiffs’ lawyers view the settlement as a landmark achievement promoting honesty and accountability in the tech industry.
  • A preliminary settlement was reached in December 2023, averting a scheduled trial. Details of the settlement terms were undisclosed at the time.

Google has agreed to settle a lawsuit alleging that it unlawfully tracked the internet activity of users who believed they were browsing in private mode. The settlement terms, filed on Monday in an Oakland, California federal court, require approval by U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers.

The lawsuit, initiated in 2020, encompassed millions of Google users who utilized private browsing settings since June 1, 2016. Plaintiffs claimed that Google’s analytics, cookies, and apps enabled the company to improperly track individuals using Google Chrome’s “Incognito” mode and other browsers’ “private” browsing mode.

According to the plaintiffs, Google’s practices transformed the company into an “unaccountable trove of information,” allowing it to gather data on users’ personal interests, habits, and online activities, including potentially sensitive information.

Under the settlement terms, Google has agreed to update disclosures regarding data collection during “private” browsing sessions, a process already underway. Additionally, the company will enable users in Incognito mode to block third-party cookies for five years, reducing the amount of data collected and limiting Google’s potential for monetization through user information.

Jose Castaneda, a spokesman for Google, stated that the company is pleased to settle the lawsuit, which it has always deemed meritless. Castaneda reiterated Google’s position that data collected during Incognito mode usage is not associated with individual users and is not used for personalization purposes.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers, represented by David Boies, hailed the settlement as “a historic step in requiring honesty and accountability from dominant technology companies.” A preliminary settlement was reached in December, preventing a scheduled trial on February 5, 2024. The settlement terms were not disclosed at the time, but the plaintiffs’ lawyers intend to seek unspecified legal fees payable by Google.

TechGolly editorial team led by Al Mahmud Al Mamun. He worked as an Editor-in-Chief at a world-leading professional research Magazine. Rasel Hossain and Enamul Kabir are supporting as Managing Editor. Our team is intercorporate with technologists, researchers, and technology writers. We have substantial knowledge and background in Information Technology (IT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Embedded Technology.

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