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Business News/ Companies / News/  Google, accused of tracking private browsing user data in ‘Incognito’ mode, settles $5-billion lawsuit
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Google, accused of tracking private browsing user data in ‘Incognito’ mode, settles $5-billion lawsuit

Google has agreed to settle a major lawsuit accusing the company of secretly monitoring individuals' online activities. The trial was put on hold after Google and the plaintiffs reached a settlement agreement. The details of the settlement remain undisclosed.

FILE PHOTO: An illuminated Google logo is seen inside an office building in Zurich, Switzerland December 5, 2018. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann//File Photo (REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann//File Photo)Premium
FILE PHOTO: An illuminated Google logo is seen inside an office building in Zurich, Switzerland December 5, 2018. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann//File Photo (REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann//File Photo)

Google has agreed to settle a major lawsuit. This lawsuit accused the Alphabet company of secretly monitoring the online activities of countless individuals. These individuals believed they were browsing the internet in private.

The trial was initially scheduled for February 5, 2024. However, it was put on hold by US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in Oakland, California. This delay occurred after Google and the consumer plaintiffs announced an initial agreement to settle. The lawsuit initially sought damages of no less than $5 billion, Reuters reported.

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Details of the settlement remain under wraps. However, both parties have confirmed reaching a binding agreement through mediation. Lawyers are likely to present a formal settlement for court approval by February 24, 2024.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit claimed that Google's use of analytics, cookies and various apps enabled the company to track user activities. This tracking occurred even when users opted for 'Incognito' mode in Google Chrome or 'private' browsing in other browsers.

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This action, according to the plaintiffs, turned Google into an uncontrollable repository of personal information. It allowed Google to acquire insights into the user's personal interests, activities, and even sensitive searches.

Judge Rogers, in August, denied Google's motion to dismiss the lawsuit. She indicated that it was unclear whether Google had legally committed not to collect data in private browsing mode. The judge cited Google's privacy policies and other company statements that hint at limitations on data collection.

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Lawsuit initiated in 2020

The lawsuit, initiated in 2020, involves a vast number of Google users. The timeframe for these violations dates back to June 1, 2016. Each user involved in the lawsuit sought damages of at least $5,000. These damages were for alleged breaches of federal wiretapping and California privacy laws.

(With Reuters inputs)

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Published: 29 Dec 2023, 07:06 AM IST
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