Google agrees to destroy billions of ‘incognito user data’ over $5 billion lawsuit cover image

Google agrees to destroy billions of ‘incognito user data’ over $5 billion lawsuit

The tech giant will also allow users to block third-party cookies by default in incognito mode for the next five years.

Google has agreed to delete billions of data points regarding consumer’s incognito private browsing data. The agreement comes as part of a 2020 class action lawsuit that alleges the tech company collected user’s browsing data without their knowledge. The settlement also requires Google to make other changes such as blocking third-party cookie tracking on Chrome’s Incognito mode. 

The 2020 Class action lawsuit alleges Google misled users with the privacy net of Incognito mode on Chrome while tracking their activities. In defense, Google said it warned users that Incognito does not mean invisible and websites could still track their activities in Incognito mode.

What was the $5 billion lawsuit against Google?

In 2020, Google faced a Class action lawsuit that alleged the tech company tracks user data even when they are in incognito mode. Google failed to dismiss the lawsuit in 2021 with judges ruling that Google had not adequately notified users of data collection in Incognito mode since 2016. 

The lawsuit trial was initially scheduled for February but was delayed due to a preliminary settlement in December 2023. The settlement now awaits the final approval by Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of the Northern District of California. The next hearing should take place in late July and if the settlement is approved, it would mark a massive step forward in protecting user privacy. 

There have been massive concerns about massive corporations collecting and using user data. Recently, it was alleged that Facebook and Netflix shared user data, although Facebook refutes any such claims.

What does Google have to do?

As part of the ruling, Google has to delete millions of data points that tracked user activity in Incognito mode. Any data that is not deleted has to be deidentified as per the court ruling. 

The settlement does not include damages, so the plaintiffs will not receive any money despite claiming $5 billion initially.

Google will also let users block third-party cookies by default in Incognito mode for the next five years. Users can still sue Google individually

Stay tuned to for the latest tech news and updates.