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Google to destroy private browsing data in settlement over 'incognito mode'

Though the company will not issue any payment as part of the settlement, individual plaintiffs retain the right to sue for compensation on their own.

Published: April 1, 2024 5:14pm

Tech giant Google on Monday agreed to delete a vast trove of private browsing data as part of a settlement in a class-action suit over its "incognito mode" function.

"We are pleased to settle this lawsuit, which we always believed was meritless. The plaintiffs originally wanted $5 billion and are receiving zero," said Google spokesperson José Castañeda said, according to The Hill.

Under the terms of the settlement, the firm must explicitly disclose to users of its "incognito mode" that it does harvest data from browser sessions using the feature. Google, moreover, will permit users to block third-party cookies by default for five years.

"Incognito mode" is a function by which a user may open a private window to browse the internet that keeps the device from storing search history or information entered in websites. 

"Google with this Settlement agrees to rewrite its disclosures to inform users that 'Google' collects private browsing data, including by explicitly disclosing that fact in its Privacy Policy and on the Incognito Splash Screen that automatically appears at the beginning of every Incognito session," the filing stated

"Google must delete the private browsing detection bits that Plaintiffs uncovered, which Google was (twice) sanctioned for concealing. As a result, Google will no longer track people’s choice to browse privately," the settlement also stated.

Though the company will not issue any payment as part of the settlement, individual plaintiffs retain the right to sue for compensation on their own.

Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter.

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