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Google settles lawsuit seeking Rs 41,000 crore for browser 'Incognito' mode violation

Google's parent company, Alphabet, has opted to settle a class-action lawsuit alleging privacy violations in the 'Incognito' mode. The lawsuit accused Google of secretly tracking the internet use of millions of users who believed they were browsing privately.

Google settles lawsuit seeking Rs 41000 crore for browser 'Incognito' mode violation
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First Published Dec 29, 2023, 12:53 PM IST

In response to allegations of privacy violations in the 'Incognito' mode, Google's parent company, Alphabet, has decided to settle a significant lawsuit. The class action lawsuit accused the tech giant of secretly tracking the internet use of millions of users who believed they were browsing privately, news agency Reuters reported. The lawsuit, filed against Google, claimed that the company was spying on users' private data through Google Analytics, cookies, and apps while they were in Incognito mode. Despite attempts by Google to have the lawsuit dismissed, US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in California put the case on hold after the reported settlement.

While the exact terms of the settlement remain undisclosed, the class action initially demanded Google to pay at least $5 billion, equivalent to over Rs 41,000 crore. Google's lawyers have agreed to a binding term sheet through mediation and anticipate presenting a formal settlement for court approval by February 24, 2024.

Incognito mode, marketed by Google as a "private" browsing option, assures users that their browsing history will not be tracked by cookies. The lawsuit claimed that Google, through its actions, transformed into an "unaccountable trove of information," accessing users' personal details, preferences, and potentially embarrassing online searches.

The person who initiated the class action alleged that Google accessed private data through Incognito mode to tailor advertisements based on personal preferences. Despite the judge rejecting Google's attempt to dismiss the lawsuit, arguments in the case revolved around whether Google had made a legally binding promise not to collect users' data in private mode.

Filed in 2020, the lawsuit aimed to cover "millions" of Google users since June 1, 2016, seeking at least $5,000 in damages per user for violations of federal wire-tapping and California privacy laws.

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