Google Settles $5B Privacy Lawsuit Alleging That It Tracked Users Who Used “Incognito Mode”

LONDON – APRIL 13: (FILE PHOTO) In this photo illustration the logo and search page of the multi-facetted internet giant Google is displayed on a computer screen on April 13, 2006 in London, England.(Photo Illustration by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

OAN’s Elizabeth Volberding
9:25 AM – Sunday, December 31, 2023

Google has reached a settlement to resolve a $5 billion privacy lawsuit that claimed the company spied on users using the “incognito” mode feature in its Chrome browser and similar “private” modes in other browsers to watch their internet activity.


According to a class-action lawsuit filed in 2020, Google allegedly deceived users into thinking that it wouldn’t track their online activity while they were using incognito mode. 

The incognito mode on Google’s Chrome browser, according to the plaintiffs, gave users the impression that the Silicon Valley tech company was not tracking them while they were browsing the internet, and this was the subject of the lawsuit.

However, internal Google emails revealed in the lawsuit showed that Google was indeed tracking users who were using incognito mode in order to measure web traffic and sell advertisements.

The lawsuit asserted that even though users were supposedly using “private” browsing, Google’s advertising mechanisms and other strategies were still recording information about their site visits and activities.

Additionally, plaintiffs maintained the statement that Google’s strategies provided an “unaccountable trove of information” about users who believed that they’d taken the proper steps to safeguard their privacy.

Google’s settlement, which was reached on Thursday, still needs to be authorized by a federal judge. Terms have not been revealed, however, the lawsuit initially pursued $5 billion on the user’s behalf.

On Thursday, United States District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in Oakland, California, placed an expected trial on February 5th, 2024, in the proposed class-action lawsuit if the settlement was not reached.

This came before lawyers representing Google and consumers announced that they had reached a preliminary resolution. 

Because the U.S. does not have a comprehensive law governing the use of personal data, class-action lawsuits have emerged as the primary means of challenging large tech companies on data privacy issues.

The judge also claimed that “millions of individuals” had possibly been impacted by this.

The plaintiffs’ attorneys initially requested at least $5,000 for each user who Google Analytics or Ad Manager services had tracked, even when the user was not logged into their Google account or in private browsing mode. As a result, this would total at least $5 billion.

In addition, the initial complaint claimed that Google and its employees had been given the “power to learn intimate details about individuals’ lives, interests, and internet usage.”

“Google has made itself an unaccountable trove of information so detailed and expansive that George Orwell could never have dreamed of,” the complaint added.

Furthermore, attorneys representing the plaintiffs stated that they anticipate presenting the court with a closing settlement consensus by February 24th, 2024.

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