April 20, 2024 5:21 am
Data vanishes while in disguise

The proposed settlement of a class action lawsuit against Google for collecting billions of records of web browsing data from users using “Incognito” private browsing mode has been reached. This agreement, valued at $5 billion, will impact 136 million Google users. The lawsuit, Brown v. Google, was initiated by account holders who alleged that the company was illegally tracking their behavior through the private browsing feature.

Google has agreed to destroy or anonymize the data collected in Incognito mode until December 2023 and any data not explicitly deleted must be made anonymous. The plaintiffs in the proposed settlement stated that this agreement signifies real accountability and transparency from the largest data collector in the world, highlighting a crucial step towards improving and upholding privacy rights on the internet.

Google spokesperson José Castañeda expressed that the company is pleased to resolve the lawsuit, which they have deemed baseless. Despite estimating a settlement value of $5 billion, Castañeda clarified that no damages will be received by either party and individuals can still file claims for damages under California state court terms with over 50 requests already submitted.

As part of the settlement, Google has committed to making changes in how it discloses the limitations of its private browsing services and allows users to block third-party cookies by default in Incognito mode for five years, preventing tracking on external sites while in private browsing mode.

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