The Cost of Privacy: Google Settles $5 Billion Incognito Mode Lawsuit

Pappi Hex

Photo by Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash

Google has reportedly settled a $5 billion class-action lawsuit that accused the tech giant and its parent company, Alphabet, of tracking users in Incognito mode. 

US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers halted the scheduled February 2024 trial in California after being informed by lawyers for both parties about a preliminary settlement. The lawsuit, initially filed by law firm Boies Schiller Flexner in 2020, alleged that Google tracked users even when set to Incognito mode in the Google Chrome browser and private mode in other browsers. 

Also Read: Your Guide to Claiming Your Share of Google’s $700 Million Settlement from Play Store Lawsuit

Despite Google's assertion that Incognito mode does not save browsing history, cookies, or site data, the lawsuit claimed it had become an 'unaccountable trove of information' on user preferences and potentially embarrassing details.

The terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but lawyers are expected to present a formal settlement to the court for approval by February 2024. The lawsuit, which sought at least $5,000 in damages per user for violations of federal wire-tapping and California privacy laws, covered 'millions' of Google users since June 1, 2016. 

Judge Rogers had previously rejected Google's request to dismiss the lawsuit, citing an open question regarding whether the company had made a legally binding promise not to collect users' data when browsing in private mode. 

She referred to Google's privacy policy, indicating limits on the information it might collect. Social media users responded to the news with jokes, highlighting a common lack of surprise about the extent of Google's data collection practices.


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