Google agrees to delete incognito browsing data to settle class action lawsuit

Google has agreed to delete “a trove of data reflecting the browsing history of millions of users,” the WSJ reports this today, as part of a settlement of a class action lawsuit filed in 2020. Details of the settlement were filed today in San Francisco federal court, showing that Google has agreed to destroy “billions of data points” that the lawsuit alleged was improperly collected while Chrome users were browsing in incognito mode.

The entire class action lawsuit was about exactly that, claiming that Google misled Chrome users about how the browser tracked their activity in incognito mode. The lawsuit alleged that the company failed to properly inform users about the types of data it collected, including details about which websites they viewed in incognito mode.

Google promises to delete incognito browsing data to settle class action lawsuit

Google also promises to update disclosures about the data it collects in incognito mode and give users the ability to disable third-party cookies in incognito mode. The company says it is already working on implementing these changes, and that blocking third-party cookies should become standard in Incognito mode over the next five years.

This settlement, which avoids a lawsuit, does not include damages for individual users, but allows individuals to file claims. The plaintiff’s attorneys have already filed 50 in California state court. There will be more to come in the coming months.

Google promises to delete incognito browsing data to settle class action lawsuit

Google spokesperson José Castañeda said the data in question has never been linked to an individual or used for any form of personalization of its services, and called the lawsuit “meritless,” adding that the company would like to remove what it merely calls “old technical data’. facts”.

However, the discovery phase of the lawsuit has revealed internal exchanges between Google executives that paint an interesting picture. For example, Google Chief Marketing Officer Lorraine Twohill warned CEO Sundar Pichai in 2019 that Incognito mode should not be called “private” as it risked “exacerbating common misconceptions.” In a separate email, Twohill said: “We are limited in how strongly we can market Incognito because it is not truly private, requiring really vague, hedging language that is almost more damaging.”

The preliminary settlement was reached in late December and the agreement still requires final approval from Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in the Northern District of California.

Leave a Comment