Google agrees to settle $5 billion lawsuit accusing it of tracking Incognito users

In 2020, Google was hit with a lawsuit that accused it of tracking Chrome users’ activities even when they were using Incognito mode. Now, after a failed attempt to get it dismissed, the company has agreed to settle the complaint that originally sought $5 billion in damages. According to Reuters and The Washington Post, neither side has made the details of the settlement public, but they’ve already agreed to the terms that they’re presenting to the court for approval in February.

When the plaintiffs filed the lawsuit, they said Google used tools like its Analytics product, apps and browser plug-ins to monitor users. They reasoned that by tracking someone on Incognito, the company was falsely making people believe that they could control the information that they were willing to share with it. At the time, a Google spokesperson said that while Incognito mode doesn’t save a user’s activity on their device, websites could still collect their information during the session.

The lawsuit’s plaintiffs presented internal emails that allegedly showed conversations between Google execs proving that the company monitored Incognito browser usage to sell ads and track web traffic. Their complaint accused Google of violating federal wire-tapping and California privacy laws and was asking up to $5,000 per affected user. They claimed that millions of people who’d been using Incognito since 2016 had likely been affected, which explains the massive damages they were seeking from the company. Google has likely agreed to settle for an amount lower than $5 billion, but it has yet to reveal details about the agreement and has yet to get back to Engadget with an official statement.

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