Google avoids a lawsuit for billions and deletes some data about its users

Google avoids a lawsuit for billions and deletes some data about its users
Google avoids a lawsuit for billions and deletes some data about its users

Google has agreed to delete billions of records of the personal surfing data of more than 136 million people in the US who used its Chrome browser. The move is part of a settlement of a lawsuit accusing the search engine of illegally tracking users. It was reported by The Wall Street Journal.

A $5 billion lawsuit was filed in 2020 alleging that Google was misleading users by telling them that it would not track their internet activity when using incognito mode. Google’s ad technology and third-party websites that used Google Analytics or Google Ad Manager but continued to catalog details about users’ site visits and activities and sent that information back to Google’s servers, according to the plaintiffs.

Although the settlement was announced back in December of last year, its details were only made public on Monday in new court filings. According to them, Google will delete billions of data older than nine months. As part of the settlement, the company also agreed to inform users that incognito mode collects data and that third-party tracking devices will be turned off by default when using the feature.

Consumers represented in the class action will ultimately receive no damages as part of the settlement, although the lawsuit originally sought at least five thousand dollars in damages each.

“We are pleased to settle this lawsuit. We have always considered it unfounded. The plaintiffs originally demanded five billion dollars and are getting zero. We never associate data with users when they use incognito mode. We are happy to remove old technical data that has never been associated with an individual and has never been used for any form of personalization,” Google spokesperson José Castañeda told Business Insider (BI).

But the lawyers representing the users take the whole situation as a big victory in the field of privacy protection. In addition, the settlement allows individual users to file an individual lawsuit against the company. 50 plaintiffs have already filed here, demanding financial compensation.

“This settlement is a historic step that requires honesty and accountability from dominant technology companies. The settlement prevents Google from secretly collecting user data that it estimates is worth billions of dollars,” David Boies, an attorney representing consumers, said in a statement, according to BI.

Google has known the inconsistencies of anonymous mode for a long time

According to the lawsuit, Google has known for several years that the way it presents the incognito mode could be misleading. According to Business Insider, employees of the company called for the simplification of its homepage as early as 2013. According to them, users could draw the wrong conclusions from the presentation of the mode about how “private” their searches really are.

In 2019, the company’s head of marketing, Lorraine Twohill, even drew attention to the problem. She warned CEO Sundar Pichai in an email that the anonymous mode was using vague and evasive phrases about its operation. However, nothing has changed.

The article is in Czech

Tags: Google avoids lawsuit billions deletes data users


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