Google Settles ‘Incognito’ Lawsuit, Agrees to Delete Billions of Browser Records

Google has reached a settlement in a lawsuit concerning its ‘Incognito’ private browsing mode, agreeing to delete billions of data records related to users’ browsing habits.

Initially filed in 2020, the lawsuit accused Google of misleading users about the extent of data collection while browsing in ‘Incognito’ mode on the Chrome browser. The settlement terms, disclosed in a recent court filing, require Google to take significant actions to address these concerns.

As part of the settlement, Google will delete “billions of data records” associated with users’ private browsing activities. Additionally, Google will update its disclosure practices to provide clearer information to users about the data collected during ‘Incognito’ sessions. These changes have already begun implementation.

Over the next five years, Google will allow ‘Incognito’ mode users to block third-party cookies, providing them with more control over their privacy settings. Furthermore, Google has committed to ceasing tracking users’ decisions to browse privately.

Attorney David Boies, representing the consumer plaintiffs, praised the settlement as “a historic step” towards holding dominant technology companies accountable for their actions. Boies highlighted the unprecedented scale of data deletion and remediation required by the settlement.

In response, José Castañeda, a spokesperson for Google, expressed the company’s satisfaction with the settlement, emphasizing Google’s belief in the lawsuit’s lack of merit. Castañeda clarified that Google never associates data with individual users in ‘Incognito’ mode and is committed to deleting old technical data unrelated to personalization.

Despite the settlement, users will not receive damages as part of the agreement, although they retain the option to pursue individual claims for damages. Castañeda noted that the plaintiffs originally sought $5 billion in damages but will not receive any compensation under the settlement terms.

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