Google Settles Lawsuit Over Incognito Mode Tracking, Agrees to Delete Billions of Records

Landmark Settlement Requires Google to Delete Billions of Incognito Mode Records and Enhance User Privacy Protections.

San Francisco: In a landmark settlement disclosed on Monday in San Francisco federal court, Google has agreed to delete a vast trove of data as part of a resolution to a lawsuit accusing the tech giant of tracking users’ online activities even when they were browsing in “incognito” mode. The settlement, valued at over $5 billion according to court documents, addresses concerns that Google misled users about the privacy of their browsing activities.

The lawsuit, filed in 2020, alleged that Google’s incognito mode did not effectively shield users’ browsing habits from tracking. Despite the mode’s promise of privacy, Google was accused of continuing to monitor and collect data on users’ online behavior. This settlement marks a significant development in holding technology companies accountable for their data practices.

As part of the settlement, Google has committed to “delete and/or remediate billions of data records” reflecting users’ private browsing activities. Additionally, the tech giant has agreed to implement changes to incognito mode, enabling users to block third-party cookies by default for the next five years. This move aims to provide users with greater control over their online privacy and data security.

Attorney David Boies of Boies Schiller Flexner, representing the plaintiffs in the case, emphasized the significance of the settlement in promoting transparency and accountability in the tech industry. Boies stated, “This settlement is an historic step in requiring dominant technology companies to be honest in their representations to users about how the companies collect and employ user data, and to delete and remediate data collected.”

While Google had initially agreed to the settlement in December, Monday’s filing provided additional details about the terms of the agreement between the parties. Neither Google nor Boies Schiller Flexner immediately responded to requests for comment on the settlement.

The court document highlighted the importance of the settlement in safeguarding users’ right to privacy on the internet. It stated, “This settlement ensures real accountability and transparency from the world’s largest data collector and marks an important step toward improving and upholding our right to privacy on the Internet.”

The resolution of this lawsuit underscores growing concerns surrounding online privacy and data protection. With tech giants facing increased scrutiny over their data practices, settlements like this one set a precedent for holding companies accountable for how they handle user data. As discussions around privacy regulations continue, the outcome of this case will likely have broader implications for the tech industry as a whole.

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