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Google Settles Class Action Lawsuit, Agrees to Delete Millions of Users’ Web-Browsing Data

Google has resolved a class action lawsuit initiated in 2020, agreeing to delete vast amounts of data reflecting millions of users’ web-browsing histories. The settlement, disclosed in San Francisco federal court, addresses concerns regarding data collection practices while users were browsing in Incognito mode on Chrome. 

Google Settles Class Action Lawsuit, Agrees to Delete Millions of Users' Web-Browsing Data

According to a report from the *Wall Street Journal*, Google has consented to erase “a trove of data that reflects millions of users’ web-browsing histories.” This decision comes as a resolution to a class action lawsuit initiated in 2020, which alleged that Google improperly gathered data while users were browsing in Incognito mode on Chrome.

The settlement terms, disclosed in San Francisco federal court, outline Google’s commitment to removing “billions of data points” that were collected during Incognito sessions. The lawsuit argued that Google inadequately communicated the nature of data collection, particularly regarding the websites accessed during Incognito browsing.

As part of the settlement, Google has agreed to revise its disclosures regarding data collection in Incognito mode, providing users with the option to deactivate third-party cookies within this browsing setting. Additionally, for at least the next five years, Chrome will allow users to disable third-party cookies as the default option in Incognito mode.

Despite the settlement, affected users are not entitled to damages but are allowed to file claims. Plaintiff attorneys have already submitted 50 claims in California state court, with more expected in the coming months.

Google spokesman José Castañeda dismissed the lawsuit as “meritless,” stating that the data in question is not associated with individuals or used for personalization of its services. He emphasized Google’s commitment to deleting what he referred to as “old technical data.”

Internal exchanges between Google’s top management and CEO Sundar Pichai in 2019 were revealed during the lawsuit, showing concerns about marketing Incognito Mode as private browsing. However, a preliminary settlement was reached in late December, pending final approval from Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in the Northern District of California.

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The resolution of this lawsuit underscores the growing scrutiny over data privacy practices in the digital age, as tech giants face increasing pressure to transparently communicate their data collection methods and respect user privacy rights.

Conclusion:

Google’s agreement to delete vast amounts of web-browsing data and revise its disclosure practices reflects a significant step towards addressing concerns raised in the class action lawsuit. As the settlement awaits final approval, it highlights the ongoing debate surrounding data privacy and the responsibilities of technology companies in safeguarding user information.

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