Google Commits to Deleting Browsing Data to Resolve ‘Incognito’ Lawsuit

by | Apr 1, 2024

As part of a settlement agreement in a lawsuit alleging unauthorized tracking by the company, Google will erase a vast collection of data encompassing the web-browsing histories of millions of users.

The class action lawsuit, initiated in 2020, leveled accusations against Google for purportedly deceiving users regarding Chrome's tracking mechanisms while using the private “Incognito” browsing mode. The lawsuit claimed that Google's promotional materials and privacy statements failed to adequately disclose the extent of data collection, including specifics about the websites visited by users.

The settlement terms, submitted to San Francisco federal court on Monday, outline the measures Google will implement to revise its practices regarding private browsing. According to the court documents, Google has committed to discarding billions of data points allegedly collected improperly, updating disclosures regarding its data collection during private browsing, and enabling users to disable third-party cookies in that mode.

Although the agreement doesn't include compensation for individual users, it permits them to submit claims. Plaintiff attorneys have already lodged 50 claims in California state court.

David Boies, the attorney representing the consumers in the lawsuit, stated that the settlement mandates Google to delete and address the data it wrongfully amassed on an “unprecedented scope and scale.”

The settlement compels the company to retrospectively delete substantial user data, an uncommon outcome in legal battles involving tech giants.

Google is contending with separate lawsuits from the Justice Department, alleging monopolization of the search and ad-tech markets. The company has announced its intention to appeal a December antitrust ruling related to its mobile app store business.

Source: The Wall Street Journal



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