Google settles ₹41,000 crore lawsuit after ‘spying’ on private browsing data in ‘Incognito’ mode

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Google’s parent company Alphabet decided to settle a hefty lawsuit after it was alleged that the tech company is spying on the private user data of consumers while they were browsing in the ‘Incognito’ mode, reported Reuters.

Google has been accused of spying on users through the Incognito browsing mode.(REUTERS)

A class action lawsuit was filed against Google for secretly tracking the internet use of millions of people who thought they were doing their browsing privately. However, Google said that it has reached a settlement and the lawsuit was put on hold by US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in a court in California.

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While the exact terms of the settlement have not been disclosed, the class action sought that Google pay at least $5 billion, which comes up to over 41,000 crore. Google’s lawyers said that have agreed to a binding term sheet through mediation, and expected to present a formal settlement for court approval by February 24, 2024.

The case against Google saw allegations of tracking the user data of people using the Incognito mode for browsing without their knowledge, through Google Analytics, cookies and apps.

Incognito mode is the “private” browsing mode set up by Google, which states that no cookies will be able to track your browsing history in this mode.

Google had access to ‘private data’, says lawsuit

The person who filed the class action said that Google had been accessing his private data through Incognito mode to target his likes and dislikes. Google tried to get the lawsuit dismissed but the same was rejected by the judge.

The lawsuit said that the company’s actions turned Google into an “unaccountable trove of information” by letting the company learn about their friends, hobbies, favourite foods, shopping habits, and “potentially embarrassing things” they seek out online.

After listening to the arguments, Judge Rogers said it was an open question whether Google had made a legally binding promise not to collect users’ data when they browsed in private mode. The judge cited Google’s privacy policy and other statements by the company that suggested limits on what information it might collect.

Filed in 2020, the lawsuit covered “millions” of Google users since June 1, 2016, and sought at least $5,000 in damages per user for violations of federal wire-tapping and California privacy laws.

(With inputs from Reuters)



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