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Google Agrees to Delete Browsing Data in Incognito Mode as Part of Lawsuit Settlement

Google Agrees to Delete Browsing Data in Incognito Mode as Part of Lawsuit Settlement

by Aiman MaulanaApril 4, 2024
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In a recent development reported by the Wall Street Journal, Google has agreed to delete extensive browsing data accumulated from millions of users’ web-browsing activities. This decision comes as part of a settlement reached in a class-action lawsuit filed against the tech giant back in 2020, shedding light on Google’s practices regarding user privacy.

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The lawsuit, which accused Google of improperly collecting data while users were browsing in Incognito mode on its Chrome browser, has prompted significant changes in the company’s approach to user data privacy. As per the settlement details filed in San Francisco federal court, Google has committed to erasing “billions of data points” associated with users’ browsing histories.

Central to the lawsuit was the allegation that Google misled Chrome users about the extent of data tracking while browsing in Incognito mode. It was claimed that users were not adequately informed about the types of data being collected, including details of websites visited during private browsing sessions.

In addition to deleting the contested data, they have pledged to enhance its disclosures regarding data collection practices in Incognito mode. Users will also be given the option to disable third-party cookies during private browsing sessions. Notably, Google is mandated to make blocking third-party cookies the default setting in Incognito mode for the next five years.

Google Agrees to Delete Browsing Data in Incognito Mode as Part of Lawsuit Settlement

Despite the settlement averting a trial, individual users affected by the alleged privacy violations will have the opportunity to file claims for damages. Already, plaintiff attorneys have filed 50 claims in California state court, with more anticipated in the coming months.

Responding to the settlement, Google spokesman José Castañeda reiterated that the data in question was not tied to individual users or utilized for personalization purposes. Castañeda dismissed the lawsuit as “meritless” and emphasized Google’s commitment to privacy by labeling the contested data as “old technical data”.

The lawsuit’s discovery phase has unearthed internal communications among Google executives, offering insights into the company’s stance on user privacy. Google’s Chief Marketing Officer Lorraine Twohill cautioned CEO Sundar Pichai in 2019 about the risks of branding Incognito mode as “private”, citing concerns over potential misconceptions among users.

While a preliminary settlement was reached in late December, the final approval of the agreement awaits Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers’ decision in the Northern District of California. Stay tuned for further updates as the legal proceedings unfold.


Pokdepinion: I keep telling people that Incognito Mode can still keep track of your browsing activities, it just doesn’t save it to your history. A good chunk of people still believed they somehow became completely anonymous by using it. Now you know for sure.

About The Author
Aiman Maulana
Jack of all trades, master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one. YouTuber, video editor, tech head, and a wizard of gaming. What's up? :)