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Google's incognito mode to undergo changes after settlement

Google is deleting data collected on millions of users as part of a settlement in a class-action lawsuit.
Google's incognito mode to undergo changes after settlement
Posted at 10:42 AM, Apr 02, 2024

Google has settled to conclude a four-year case involving how it was using data of Chrome users in incognito mode. 

The settlement comes after Google users alleged that the company was collecting data from them. The settlement was agreed upon just as a class-action trial was about to begin. 

Court documents suggest that data was collected on 136 million users. 

"Google does this without disclosure or consent of users, to profile plaintiffs and other class members. As a result, from this data, Google reaps billions of dollars in profits each year," the class-action suit alleged. 

In the settlement, Google agrees to delete billions of data records collected while users were in private viewing mode. The settlement also requires Google to block third-party cookies by default while in incognito mode when using non-Google sites for the next five years. 

Google must also rewrite its disclosures to tell users that it collects private browsing data.

Earlier this year, Google added this wording to its information on incognito mode: "While Incognito mode provides local privacy on your device, it does not affect how Google collects data when you use other products and services, as described in the Privacy Policy."

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The agreement does not settle any financial damages, as plaintiffs in the class-action suit are free to sue individually for damages. 

The final agreement still needs a judge's approval. 

Google has agreed to the terms of the settlement but disagrees with some of the legal and factual characteristics in the settlement. 

"We are pleased to settle this lawsuit, which we always believed was meritless. The plaintiffs originally wanted $5 billion and are receiving zero. We never associate data with users when they use Incognito mode. We are happy to delete old technical data that was never associated with an individual and was never used for any form of personalization," a Google spokesperson said.

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