Google Settles $5 Billion Lawsuit for Tracking Users in ‘Incognito’ Mode

Written by Mitchell Langley

January 2, 2024

Google Settles $5 Billion Lawsuit for Tracking Users in 'Incognito' Mode

Google settles $5 billion lawsuit that revolved around Google’s Chrome browser’s “incognito” mode. The plaintiffs argued that this feature misled users into thinking their online activities were not being monitored by Google.  

Google Settles $5 billion Lawsuit – Plaintiffs Allege that Google Secretly Tracks Data in Incognito

Google has reached a settlement in a $5 billion consumer privacy lawsuit.

The $5 billion privacy lawsuit sought damages of at least $5 billion, alleging that Google tracked the data of users who believed they were browsing the internet privately.

The focus of the Google privacy lawsuit was Google’s Chrome browser’s “incognito” mode, which the plaintiffs claimed created a misleading belief that users’ online activities were not being tracked by Google.

However, internal emails from Google presented during the lawsuit revealed that users in incognito mode were indeed being tracked by the company for purposes such as measuring web traffic and advertising sales.

In a court filing, the judge acknowledged that Google’s attorneys have reached a preliminary settlement agreement in the class action lawsuit, initially filed in 2020. The lawsuit alleged that a significant number of individuals, potentially millions, had been impacted by the issue.

Google $5 Billion Lawsuit Seeks $5,000 for Each Impacted User

While Google settles $5 billion lawsuit, the plaintiffs’ legal team sought a minimum compensation of $5,000 for each user who was tracked by Google Analytics or Ad Manager services, even while using private browsing mode and not logged into the Google account.

This would have amounted to a total of at least $5 billion.

However, the exact settlement amount in the Google data privacy law suit has not been disclosed, and it is unlikely to reach the requested figure. Neither Google nor the consumer’s lawyers provided any comment in this regard.

The settlement was reached shortly after Google’s request for the case to be decided by a judge was denied.

A jury trial in the Google privacy class action law suit had been scheduled for 2024.

The Google $5 Billion Consumer Privacy Suit Claims Google “Intentionally” Deceived Users

The Consumer Privacy Suit, filed in a California court, claimed Google had infringed on users’ privacy by “intentionally” deceiving them by tracking them in incognito option.

The complaint alleged that Google and its employees have 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 it,”

Google Privacy Class Action Law Suit Settlement is Expected in Feburary

A formal settlement is anticipated to be presented to the court for approval by February 24, 2024.

In the United States, class action lawsuits have become the primary means of addressing data privacy concerns related to major tech companies, as the country does not have a comprehensive law governing the handling of personal data.

The Google $5 Billion Lawsuit is only one of the cases from a series of class action lawsuits. In a previous case, Google paid $23 million in August to settle a protracted legal dispute regarding granting third parties access to user search data.

Similarly, in 2022, Meta, the parent company of Facebook, reached a settlement of $725 million in a similar class action suit involving the handling of user data.

If you want to know how variables like these can affect the cybersecurity posture of your organization, read our detailed guide on cybersecurity assessment.

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