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  • Parv Jain

Google's Bold Move: Erasing Browsing Data to Uphold Consumer Privacy

Google

Google has agreed to delete a huge amount of data records to settle a court case. The case accused Google of secretly keeping track of what people did online, even when those people thought they were browsing in private. This agreement was presented in a court in Oakland, California, and now it needs the OK from Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers.


The lawyers who brought the case forward think the deal is worth between $5 billion and $7.8 billion. Google won't have to pay any money right now, but people can still sue Google on their own if they want to ask for money because of this issue.


The lawsuit started in 2020 and involves many people who used Google's private browsing mode since June 1, 2016. These users said that Google, through things like analytics and cookies, wrongly followed what they did online even when they were in "Incognito" mode in Google Chrome or using private browsing in other browsers.


They argued that Google collected a lot of information about them without permission. This info included who their friends are, their favorite foods, hobbies, shopping habits, and even very private or embarrassing things they searched for online.


As part of the agreement, Google will be more clear about what kind of information it gathers when people use "private" browsing modes, something they've started doing already. Google will also allow users in Incognito mode to stop outside companies from tracking them with cookies for five years.

The lawyers for the people suing said this means Google will get less information from when people browse in private, and so, will make less money from this information.


A spokesperson for Google, Jose Castaneda, mentioned that Google is happy to have reached this agreement, even though they never thought the lawsuit had a real basis.


Jose Castaneda, who speaks for Google, said that Google does not keep track of who is who when they use Incognito mode. He mentioned that Google is okay with getting rid of old technical data that was never connected to any person and was never used to customize anything for them.


David Boies, one of the lawyers fighting against Google, said that this agreement is a big step in making sure big tech companies are honest and responsible.


They had already reached a temporary agreement in December, which stopped a trial that was going to happen on February 5, 2024. They didn't share the details of the agreement at that time. The lawyers who sued will later ask for Google to pay their legal fees, but they haven't said how much yet.


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