On 21st December in the US Google agreed to settle a $5 billion class-action privacy lawsuit alleging that it spied on people who used the “incognito” mode in its Chrome browser to track users on their browser.
It’s all ‘clicking’ off again about the value of personal data breach claims use and miss-use.
Google Settles $5 Billion Lawsuit Over Incognito Mode Tracking
Google has reached a settlement in a $5 billion lawsuit, resolving allegations that the company tracked users who believed they were browsing privately in incognito mode.
Deceptive Incognito Mode Accusations
The class action case, filed in California, asserted that Google intentionally misled users through the “incognito” mode on its Chrome web browser, giving them a false sense of privacy.
Incognito Mode’s Illusion of Privacy
Despite the incognito mode’s promise of private browsing, the lawsuit highlighted that websites, through tools like Google Analytics, could still track users’ internet usage, allowing Google and its employees to gather detailed insights since 2016.
Google’s Defense and Transparency Claims
Google defended its practices, stating that it had been transparent about data collection even in incognito mode. The company argued that such data collection helped site owners assess the performance of their content, products, and marketing strategies.
Undisclosed Settlement Terms
While the terms of the settlement were not disclosed to the public, they resolved the compensation demands outlined in the original complaint, ranging from $100 to $1,000 per plaintiff, potentially impacting millions of users.
Legal Backdrop and Ongoing Antitrust Challenges
This settlement adds to Google’s recent legal challenges, including a $700 million resolution related to its app store on Android mobile devices. The company also faces allegations of operating an illegal monopoly with its app store in a case brought by Epic Games and an ongoing antitrust trial initiated by the US Justice Department.
Internal Concerns and Marketing Challenges
Internal emails revealed concerns about incognito mode within Google’s leadership. Lorraine Twohill, Google’s marketing chief, emphasised the need to “Make Incognito Mode truly private” due to limitations in marketing the feature amid perceived privacy concerns.
Google’s Silent Response
Google declined to comment on the specifics of the settlement, maintaining a relatively muted stance on the resolution of this significant legal dispute.