Google has agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit in the United States, which accused the tech giant of invading users’ privacy by tracking them in “private mode.” The lawsuit, filed by Boies Schiller Flexner in 2020, sought at least $5 billion from Google and its parent company Alphabet. The settlement terms remain undisclosed, with a formal presentation expected for court approval by February 2024.
The legal action alleged that Google tracked users even in “Incognito” or “private mode,” turning the company into an “unaccountable trove of information” on user preferences and potentially embarrassing details. Google’s attempt to have the case dismissed was rejected earlier by US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, who subsequently put the trial on hold after lawyers reported a preliminary settlement.
The lawsuit underscores the covert and unauthorized data collection from virtually every American with a computer or phone, highlighting the increased scrutiny on large tech firms’ practices. Google contends that it was transparent about the data it collected in private mode, assisting site owners in evaluating content performance.
This settlement comes amid other legal challenges Google is facing, including lawsuits challenging its search and digital advertising practices. Earlier, Google agreed to pay $700 million to settle a lawsuit by US states accusing it of stifling competition in the Play Store on Android devices.