Google forced to delete millions of data after admitting ‘incognito’ browsing isn’t ‘private’

Tech giant Google will destroy the data of millions of users to settle a class-action lawsuit accusing the company of tracking Internet users who use private browsing without their consent. According to a San Francisco federal court, Google has reached a settlement that requires it to “delete or correct billions of data records that reflect users’ private browsing activities.”

The lawsuit, which began in 2020, involves millions of internet users who have been using the Incognito tab since June 2016. Initially, the plaintiffs sought $5,000 per customer for violating federal wiretapping laws. California Telephone and Privacy Policy. The lawsuit accuses Google of misleading users by not informing them of the type of data they collected when using a private browsing mode called “Incognito.”

The settlement, which still needs final approval from a judge, also forces Google to redact information about the personal data it collects in the tab and allow users to block cakes from third parties for the next five years. While the settlement does not include damages, it does allow individuals to seek compensation, and according to the document, 50 lawsuits have already been filed in California courts.

Coverage of the lawsuit revealed internal exchanges that showed Google executives debating the company’s disclosure of private browsing. The Wall Street Journal. Google’s chief marketing officer Lorraine Toohill warned the company’s CEO Sundar Pichai in 2019 that the Incognito browser should not be called “private” because it risks “fueling well-known misconceptions”.

“We’re limited in how strongly we can implement incognito because it’s not really private, so it requires really vague and hedged language that’s almost more disruptive,” Thiel later wrote in another email. Under the terms of the agreement, Google redacts its statements about how it collects personal browsing data. The company says that the implementation of this change has already started.

As numerous privacy experts have warned since its launch, Incognito Browsing prevents the device from which it is run from keeping records of the user’s actions, thereby preventing other people from accessing them later. However, this does not prevent digital services from collecting personal data resulting from this browsing.

Official Google sources told elDiario.es that they “do not have the knowledge or visibility” to verify whether the data that the multinational company is supposed to delete contains information about European citizens. Attorney David Boyce, who represents users in the lawsuit, argued that the settlement requires Google to delete and correct an “unprecedented scale and scope” of improperly collected data. “This agreement is a historic step in demanding honesty and accountability from dominant technology companies,” he said.

Google, on the other hand, claims that this is “old technical data” that it has no problem deleting. It also ensures that the data is never linked to specific individuals or used for any kind of personalization.

The company is currently facing several lawsuits from the Department of Justice, alleging that the company monopolizes the digital advertising market and thereby undermines free competition. Additionally, last December the company agreed to pay $700 million and make changes to its Android app download platform, Google Play, to settle another antitrust lawsuit filed by several US states.

Source: El Diario

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