Google Settles Lawsuit to Wipe Out Incognito Browsing Data  

Google Settles Lawsuit to Wipe Out Incognito Browsing Data

Google Settles Lawsuit to Wipe Out Incognito Browsing Data

Tech giant Google finally announced that it would delete millions of data on customers’ incognito browsing behaviour as part of a class-action lawsuit settlement alleging that it tracked people without their knowledge. 

The lawsuit, which was launched in 2020, claimed that the Alphabet division secretly collected data from users of its well-known Chrome web browser while they were using the private “incognito” surfing mode. This covered millions of users who use private browsing since June 1, 2016. Although that feature allows users to turn off data gathering when using the Chrome browser, the lawsuit claims that other Google products that websites utilise, like advertising technology, nevertheless collect users’ data. 

Details revealed in a filing at a federal court in San Francisco on Monday indicate that Google, which settled in December 2023, will delete “billions” of data records reflecting people’s private browsing. 

Settlement Reached, No Cash Payment from Google 

Additionally, Google noted that it has clarified many disclosures regarding user data collection and the activities that websites can view while users browse in “incognito” mode. The business also consented to letting customers block third-party cookies for five years while using incognito mode. Jose Castaneda, a spokesperson from Google, also stated that they were happy to have reached a settlement in this case, which they always thought lacked merit. 

Jose also stated that when people utilise incognito mode, they never link data to them. They are also glad to remove outdated technical information that was never utilised for personalisation and was never connected to a specific person. 

Although the plaintiffs requested $5 billion in damages, Google is not paying anything as part of the deal. Rather, people can seek compensation by bringing their own lawsuits against Google in US state courts, citing court documents. Nearly fifty or more people have previously done this, according to the plaintiffs’ attorneys. 

Led by attorney David Boies (An American lawyer and chairman of the law firm Boies Schiller Flexner LLP.), the plaintiffs’ team hailed the deal as “groundbreaking” and a “historic step” in forcing large digital corporations to disclose to consumers how they gather and utilise user data. 

Google Deletes User Data, Potentially Hampering Ad Business 

Since Google’s rich advertising business depends on the efficacy of its search engine, the company’s promise to delete user information retroactively is a big concession. Additionally, it coincides with growing worries about how the internet giants handle the enormous amounts of user data they gather regarding how Google is being treated by numerous regulatory bodies both within and internationally. 

Stephanie Liu, a senior analyst at Forrester, a US-based research and advisory company, commented that a consistent wave of grievances, legal actions, and regulatory measures has been directed towards businesses that acquire or divulge client information in an unforeseen manner. Moreover, consumers are becoming more aware of their privacy and taking action, as evidenced by increased class action lawsuits and complaints centred around privacy. 

Third Antitrust Lawsuit Nears Closing Arguments 

Lawyers from the companies Boies Schiller Flexner and Morgan & Morgan, representing consumers in the action, claim that the settlement offers plaintiffs “substantial relief.” 

The settlement also avoided a planned trial on February 5 2024, which is predicted to be one of Google’s busiest legal years ever. September is set aside for a jury trial in a lawsuit brought by the US Justice Department and a group of state attorneys general, alleging that the company illegally monopolised digital advertising and violated antitrust laws. A related lawsuit from Texas and other states contesting the company’s ad tech practices is set for March 2025. 

In a third lawsuit, the business is accused of illegally controlling the online search industry, and a US court in Washington will hear closing arguments in May for this historic federal antitrust trial. 

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