Data vanishes while in disguise

Google has reached a settlement worth $5 billion to destroy or anonymize billions of records of web browsing data collected from users in private browsing mode. This decision is part of a proposed class action lawsuit filed on Monday. The settlement also requires Google to provide more detailed information about how it collects data in private browsing mode and to limit future data collection. If approved by a federal judge in California, the settlement could impact 136 million Google users.

The lawsuit, Brown v. Google, was initiated by Google account holders who alleged that the company was illegally tracking their behavior through the private browsing feature. However, a Google spokesperson, José Castañeda, stated that the company is pleased to resolve the lawsuit, which they consider baseless. Despite the plaintiffs estimating the settlement value at $5 billion, Castañeda clarified that they will not receive any damages. The settlement does not provide damages to the class but allows individuals to file claims for damages.

Under the terms of the settlement, Google will deal with data collected in private browsing mode until December 2023 and must make any data that is not explicitly deleted anonymous within this timeframe. Additionally, Google has agreed to change its disclosure of private browsing services’ limitations and implement changes that prevent third-party cookies from tracking users in Incognito mode for five years. Users can still file damages claims under California state court law if they wish to do so under the terms of the agreement.

By Sophia Gonzalez

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