Google settles $5 billion consumer privacy suit over Chrome's incognito mode2023-12-29 17:54 by Daniela
Tags: Chrome, incognito mode
Google has agreed to settle a consumer privacy lawsuit seeking at least $5 billion in damages over allegations it tracked the data of users who thought they were browsing the internet privately.
The object of the lawsuit was the "incognito" mode on Google's Chrome browser that the plaintiffs said gave users a false sense that what they were surfing online was not being tracked by the Silicon Valley tech firm.
The lawsuit, filed by Florida resident William Byatt and California residents Chasom Brown and Maria Nguyen, accused Google of violating wiretap laws. It also alleged that sites using Google Analytics or Ad Manager collected information from browsers in Incognito mode, including web page content, device data, and IP address. The plaintiffs also accused Google of taking Chrome users' private browsing activity and then associating it with their already-existing user profiles.
Google initially attempted to have the lawsuit dismissed by pointing to the message displayed when users turned on Chrome's incognito mode. That warning tells users that their activity "might still be visible to websites you visit."
A formal settlement is expected for court approval by February 24, 2024.
Class action lawsuits have become the main venue to challenge big tech companies on data privacy matters in the United States, which lacks a comprehensive law on the handling of personal data.
In August, Google paid $23 million to settle a long-running case over giving third-parties access to user search data. In 2022, Facebook parent company Meta settled a similar case, agreeing to pay $725 million over the handling of user data.
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