Google has reached a settlement to resolve a $5 billion class-action privacy lawsuit. It claimed the tech giant improperly tracked users’ personal information. It did so when it used the incognito mode of its Chrome browser and other similar “private” modes in other browsers to monitor their online activities. In 2020, a lawsuit was filed alleging that Google had deceived users into thinking that using Incognito mode would prevent it from tracking their online activities. The lawsuit claimed that despite users using ostensibly “private” browsing, Google’s advertising technologies and third-party websites that used Google Analytics or Google Ad Manager kept track of users’ site visits and activities, sending the data back to Google servers.
The proposed trial
A trial in the proposed class action was set for February 5, 2024. However, US district judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in Oakland, California postponed it after Google and consumer attorneys announced they had reached a preliminary settlement in the lawsuit, which sought US$5 billion in damages. However, internal Google emails revealed in the lawsuit showed that the search engine giant was tracking users. They were especially the ones who were using incognito mode to measure web traffic and sell ads.
Google’s class-action privacy lawsuit
The plaintiffs had claimed that even when they switched Chrome and other browsers to “private” browsing mode, Google’s analytics, cookies, and apps allowed the Alphabet division to monitor their online activities. Additionally, the plaintiffs claimed that Google’s actions produced an “unaccountable trove of information” about people who believed they had taken privacy-protecting measures. It included everything from harmless information about friends, favorite foods, shopping routes, and pastimes to possibly embarrassing details. The plaintiffs’ attorneys requested at least $5,000 for each user. This would have cost at least $5 billion. However, the settlement will probably not come close to that amount. Furthermore, the parties did not provide a sum for their preliminary settlement.
Google has reached a settlement
The settlement was reached only a few weeks after Google’s request for a judge to decide the case was denied. Next year will see the start of a jury trial. Google was accused in the lawsuit of violating users’ privacy by “intentionally deceiving them with the incognito option.” It was filed in a Californian court. According to the initial complaint, Google and its staff members were granted the “ability to discover personal information about people’s lives, passions, and online activities.” By February 24, 2024, a formal settlement is anticipated for court approval. Class action lawsuits have emerged as the primary means of challenging large tech companies on data privacy issues. This is because the US does not have a comprehensive law governing the handling of personal data.