Google Agrees to Destroy Billions of ‘Incognito’ Browsing Records in Proposed Settlement

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet, attends a press event to announce Google as the
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Google has agreed to destroy or “de-identify” billions of records of web browsing data collected from users in its private browsing “Incognito Mode,” as part of a proposed class action settlement filed on Monday.

The Verge reports that the proposed settlement, filed in the case of Brown v. Google, aims to address concerns raised by Google account holders who accused the company of illegally tracking their behavior through the private browsing feature. If approved by a California federal judge, the settlement could apply to 136 million Google users.

Under the terms of the settlement, Google will be required to destroy or de-identify data collected in private browsing mode from December 2023 and earlier. The company will also face greater disclosure requirements regarding how it collects information in Incognito mode and will be subject to limits on future data collection practices.

Sundar Pichai CEO of Google ( Carsten Koall /Getty)

The plaintiffs in the case value the proposed settlement at $5 billion, calculated based on the value of data Google has stored and would be forced to destroy, as well as the data it would be prevented from collecting in the future. The settlement filing states, “This Settlement ensures real accountability and transparency from the world’s largest data collector and marks an important step toward improving and upholding our right to privacy on the Internet.”

Google spokesperson José Castañeda maintained that the company is “pleased to settle this lawsuit, which we always believed was meritless.” He clarified that Google never associates data with users when they use Incognito mode and that the company is willing to delete old technical data that was not associated with individuals or used for personalization purposes.

As part of the agreement, Google will also make changes to how it discloses the limits of its private browsing services, a process that has already begun on its Chrome browser. Additionally, for the next five years, Google will allow users to block third-party cookies by default in Incognito mode, preventing the company from tracking users on outside websites while they are in private browsing.

While the proposed settlement does not include damages for the class, individuals can still file claims for damages in California state court. To date, 50 such claims have already been filed.

Read more at the Verge here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship.


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