The Impact of Google’s Proposed Settlement on Incognito Mode Users

The Impact of Google’s Proposed Settlement on Incognito Mode Users

Google recently agreed to a proposed settlement in the case of Brown v. Google, which would require the tech giant to destroy or de-identify billions of records of web browsing data collected from users in its private browsing mode, known as “Incognito mode.” This settlement, if approved by a California federal judge, has the potential to impact 136 million Google users and would also introduce greater transparency about how Google collects information in Incognito mode.

The proposed settlement is valued at $5 billion, a significant amount that reflects the value of the data Google has stored and would be required to destroy, as well as the data it would be prevented from collecting in the future. The plaintiffs in the case have emphasized the importance of accountability and transparency from Google, stating that this settlement marks a crucial step in protecting users’ right to privacy on the internet.

In response to the proposed settlement, Google spokesperson José Castañeda expressed the company’s satisfaction with reaching an agreement in the lawsuit, which they believed to be meritless. Castañeda clarified that, despite the $5 billion valuation of the settlement, the plaintiffs would not be receiving any monetary compensation. Google maintains that it does not associate data with individual users when they use Incognito mode and is committed to deleting old technical data that was never linked to specific individuals.

As part of the settlement, Google has agreed to make changes to how it discloses the limitations of its private browsing services. The company has already begun implementing these changes on its Chrome browser, including allowing users to block third-party cookies by default in Incognito mode. This measure is intended to prevent Google from tracking users on external websites while they are in private browsing mode.

While the settlement does not include damages for the class of users affected by the data collection practices, individuals still have the option to file claims for damages in California state court according to the terms of the settlement. So far, there have been 50 claims filed by individuals seeking compensation for alleged privacy violations.

The proposed settlement between Google and plaintiffs in the Brown v. Google case represents a significant development in the ongoing debate over online privacy and data collection practices. If approved, this settlement could set a precedent for holding tech companies accountable for their data collection methods and ensuring greater transparency for users. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, it is essential for companies like Google to prioritize user privacy and adhere to strict standards of data protection.


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