Google Agrees to Delete Incognito Mode Data to Settle Privacy Lawsuit

Google Agrees to Delete Incognito Mode Data to Settle Privacy Lawsuit

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Back in 2020, a class-action lawsuit alleged that Google Chrome’s Incognito mode did not effectively shield users from online tracking. In December 2023, Google reportedly reached a settlement agreement that requires the company to delete “billions of data points” collected during this disputed practice.

The class-action lawsuit represents millions of Google users who have used the private browsing mode since June 1, 2016. Users claimed they were misled into believing that their online activities were safe and private while using Google’s Incognito mode. The potential damages could have amounted to USD 5 billion or USD 5,000 per affected user.

google 21 1712031656 - Google Agrees to Delete Incognito Mode Data to Settle Privacy Lawsuit

Allegations Against Google According to a Reuters report, users alleged that Google’s analytics, cookies, and apps allowed the company to improperly track individuals using Chrome’s ‘Incognito’ mode and other browsers’ ‘private’ browsing mode. This practice turned Google into an ‘unaccountable trove of information,’ revealing details about users’ friends, favorite food, hobbies, shopping habits, and even their most intimate and potentially embarrassing online searches.

Settlement Includes Clearer Disclosures and Third-Party Cookie Block As part of the settlement, Google will enhance its disclosures regarding Incognito mode functionality. Additionally, Chrome will be programmed to automatically block third-party cookies by default for the next five years. This move builds upon Google’s prior announcement to phase out third-party cookies entirely by the end of 2024.

Ruling Highlights Importance of User Privacy While the settlement doesn’t involve financial compensation for the plaintiffs, it paves the way for individual lawsuits against Google in California concerning privacy violations.

Google Already Taking Steps to Address Privacy Concerns It’s important to note that Google had already begun to address privacy concerns before the settlement. Recent updates to Chrome Canary, a testing version of the browser, clarify the limitations of Incognito mode. Notably, the disclaimer now explicitly states that Incognito doesn’t prevent data collection by websites and their associated services, including Google itself.

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Story first
published: Tuesday, April 2, 2024, 9:54 [IST]

Original news source Credit: www.gizbot.com

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