Google to delete billions of data to settle privacy lawsuit

Adgully Bureau |

In a settlement resolving a privacy lawsuit, Google will destroy billions of data records collected during alleged private browsing sessions.

According to a Reuters report, the terms of the settlement were submitted on Monday in the federal court in Oakland, California and await approval from US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers.

Lawyers representing the plaintiffs estimate the settlement's worth to be between $5 billion and $7.8 billion. Google will not pay damages, but individuals retain the right to sue the company for damages.

The class action lawsuit, initiated in 2020, encompasses millions of Google users who engaged in private browsing since June 1, 2016. The allegation is that Google's analytics, cookies, and applications enabled the Alphabet unit to inappropriately monitor individuals who activated Google's Chrome browser's "Incognito" mode or other browsers' "private" browsing modes.

This alleged behaviour transformed Google into an "unregulated repository of information," allowing the company to glean insights into users' social circles, preferences, hobbies, shopping patterns, and even their most private and potentially embarrassing online searches.

As part of the settlement, Google will revise disclosures regarding its data collection practices in "private" browsing, a process it has already initiated. Additionally, it will enable Incognito users to block third-party cookies for a period of five years.

According to the plaintiffs' attorneys, this settlement will result in Google collecting less data from users' private browsing sessions and consequently earning less revenue from data monetization.

Google spokesman Jose Castaneda expressed satisfaction with the settlement, asserting that the company had always viewed the lawsuit as lacking merit.

David Boies, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, hailed the settlement as "a significant stride toward demanding transparency and accountability from dominant technology corporations."

A preliminary agreement was reached in December, forestalling a scheduled trial on February 5, 2024. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed at that time. The plaintiffs' legal team intends to subsequently pursue unspecified legal fees from Google.