Google to Delete Incognito Data & Pay $391.5 Million: What You Need to Know?


In a landmark privacy case, Google has agreed to delete certain browsing data collected in Incognito mode and pay a whopping $391.5 million to settle a class-action lawsuit. This lawsuit, filed in 2020, alleged that Google continued to track users even when they were browsing in Incognito mode, which is designed to provide a more private browsing experience. While Google has denied any wrongdoing, the settlement signifies a significant development in the ongoing debate about user privacy and the power of tech giants.

Understanding Incognito Mode and the Allegations

Incognito mode, also known as private browsing mode, is a feature offered by most web browsers that allows users to browse the internet without their browsing history being saved. This means that websites you visit, searches you conduct, and cookies collected by websites are not stored by the browser. Incognito mode is often used by users who want to keep their browsing activity private, such as when browsing for sensitive topics, checking work emails on a personal device, or planning a surprise for someone.

The lawsuit against Google alleged that even in Incognito mode, Google continued to collect data about users' browsing activity. This data collection, according to the lawsuit, included information such as the websites users visited, their IP addresses, and their browsing history. The lawsuit argued that this data collection violated users' privacy expectations and was a deceptive practice.

Google's Response and the Settlement Agreement

Google has boldly denied any wrongdoing throughout the lawsuit. The company maintains that Incognito mode has always functioned as intended, and that it does not collect browsing history data while users are in Incognito mode. However, Google has acknowledged that it does collect some data even in Incognito mode, such as system logs and data used to maintain functionality of certain features.

In order to resolve the lawsuit and avoid a lengthy court battle, Google has agreed to a settlement of $391.5 million. This settlement will be distributed to the class of plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which includes anyone who used Google Chrome in Incognito mode in the United States between June 2016 and June 2021.

As part of the settlement, Google has also agreed to make a number of changes to its Incognito mode functionality. These changes include:

  • More Clear Disclosures
  • Deleting Certain Data
  • Improved Incognito Mode Controls

More Clear Disclosures:

Google will be required to provide users with clearer and more prominent disclosures about the data that is collected in Incognito mode. This will help users to better understand what information is being collected and how it is being used.

Deleting Certain Data:

Google has agreed to delete certain data that is collected in Incognito mode, such as data from website cookies. This will help to ensure that users' browsing activity in Incognito mode is truly private.

Improved Incognito Mode Controls:

Google will also be required to make improvements to the controls that users have over Incognito mode. This may include making it easier for users to turn Incognito mode on and off, and to manage the data that is collected in Incognito mode.

The settlement between Google and the plaintiffs in this lawsuit has significant implications for user privacy and the future of Incognito mode. The settlement serves as a reminder of the importance of user privacy and the need for tech companies to be transparent about their data collection practices. It also highlights the power of class-action lawsuits in holding tech giants accountable for their actions.

For users, the settlement means that they can expect to see clearer disclosures about data collection in Incognito mode, as well as the deletion of certain data types. It also underscores the importance of being aware of the limitations of Incognito mode and understanding that some data collection may still occur even when browsing privately.

The settlement in this lawsuit is likely to have a lasting impact on Incognito mode and how it is used by consumers. It is possible that Google may make further changes to Incognito mode in the future, in order to further enhance user privacy and comply with the terms of the settlement. Users can expect to see more transparency from Google about data collection practices, as well as more control over the data that is collected in Incognito mode.

The Importance of User Privacy

The lawsuit against Google and the subsequent settlement highlight the growing importance of user privacy in today's digital age. As we rely more and more on technology in our daily lives, it is essential that we have control over our personal data and that tech companies are transparent about how our data is being collected and used.

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