Google says it will delete Incognito browsing data from Chrome.

Monday's Google settlement of a class-action lawsuit over Incognito tracking revealed the first facts. The 2020 lawsuit might have cost the corporation $5 billion. Instead, The Wall Street Journal claims that Google will trash “billions of data points” it wrongly acquired, alter its data collection disclaimers, and block Chrome's third-party cookies by default for five years.  

The lawsuit claimed Google misled Chrome users regarding Incognito browsing's privacy. The company allegedly persuaded customers their data was private while monitoring their activity. Google said it advised Chrome users that Incognito mode “does not mean ‘invisible’” and that sites could still see their activity. The settlement was reported in December.  

The suit initially sought $5,000 per user for federal surveillance and California privacy law violations. Google failed to dismiss the lawsuit in 2021 because Judge Lucy Koh found that the firm “did not notify” consumers it was still collecting data when Incognito mode was activated. Engadget emailed Google about the settlement. This article will be updated if we hear back.  

Company correspondence from late 2022 indicated its concerns about Incognito's fake privacy. In 2019, Google Chief Marketing Officer Lorraine Twohill advised CEO Sundar Pichai that “private” for Incognito mode risked “exacerbating known misconceptions.” Twohill added in a later email, “We are limited in how strongly we can market Incognito because it’s not truly private, thus requiring really fuzzy, hedging language that is almost more damaging.”  

Users must sue Google individually for financial damages as the court didn't recognize a class. On Thursday, 50 people filed a separate privacy violation lawsuit in California state court.

The February lawsuit trial was originally set. Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of the Northern District of California must approve the settlement before it is final. “This settlement is a historic step in requiring honesty and accountability from dominant technology companies,” plaintiffs' attorney David Boies told The Wall Street Journal.  

The settlement's demand that Google disable third-party tracking cookies by default for five years may be meaningless. The Privacy Sandbox was set to disable all third-party cookies for Chrome users by year's end. Instead of cookies, the Topics API will categorize browser activities into locally stored topics. This new technology enables advertisers target adverts to users without accessing their surfing data.  

The destruction of improperly gathered data may also be ineffective. Since the action covers data from 2016, it's likely the corporation sold most of it to third parties or incorporated it into unrelated products. Google must also revise its Incognito data collecting privacy disclosures. It told The WSJ it's implemented the modification.  

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