July 20, 2024

Google has agreed to delete billions of records and submit to some restrictions on its power to track users as part of a proposed legal settlement.

The agreement aims to resolve a class action lawsuit filed in the United States in 2020 that accused the tech giant of violating people’s privacy by collecting user data even when they were browsing in “private mode.”

The lawsuit had sought $5 billion in damages. Google supports the deal but denies the claims. Changes have already been made in response to the lawsuit.

Data deletion also applies outside the USA.

In January, shortly after both sides announced it would settle the case, the company updated its disclosures to make clear that it continued to track user data even when users chose to search privately or use the “incognito” setting.

This mode offers a little more privacy because browsing activity is not saved on the computer you are using.

Google settles lawsuit over tracking in “private mode.” That same month, the company announced that it was beginning to test a feature for all Google Chrome users that would automatically block third-party cookies that help track user activity.

Shortly after the lawsuit was filed in 2020, the company had automatically imposed this ban on Incognito users and agreed to ensure that this restriction remained in effect for five years under the terms of the settlement agreement filed Monday in federal court in San Francisco Strength remains.

On Monday, Google also agreed to delete “hundreds of billions” of private browsing records it collected, the court filing said.

“We are pleased to resolve this lawsuit, which we have always considered to be without merit,” Google spokesman Jorge Castaneda said in a statement, noting that the company would not pay any damages.

“We are happy to delete old technical data that has never been associated with an individual and has never been used for any form of personalization.”

Google still faces lawsuits from private individuals over data breaches that could result in fines.

Attorney David Boies of Boies Schiller Flexner LLP, who represented users in the fight, called the deal a “historic move that demands honesty and accountability from dominant technology companies.”

The lawsuit alleged that despite claims to the contrary, Google tracked users’ activities even when they set the Google Chrome browser to incognito mode and other browsers to private mode.

The litigation brought to light documents in which Google employees called Incognito “basically a lie” and “a confusing mess,” according to court documents.

Last year, Judge Yvonne Rogers denied Google’s request to dismiss the case, saying she could not agree that users consent to Google collecting information about their browsing activities.

The deal will now be submitted to the court for approval.

The agreement comes as major technology companies in the U.S. and beyond face increasing scrutiny of their practices.

In the US, Google and its parent company Alphabet are facing two separate monopoly lawsuits from the federal government.

It also recently settled a number of other lawsuits.

The company paid almost $400 million (£318 million) in 2022 to settle claims from US states that the company had tracked the location of users who had opted out of location services on their devices.

In December 2023, the company also agreed to a $700 million (£557 million) settlement to resolve a lawsuit brought by a group of US states that had accused the company of seeking to compete with its Play Store on Android. devices.

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