Alphabet’s Google has agreed to settle a lawsuit accusing it of clandestinely monitoring the internet activity of millions who believed they were browsing privately.
U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in Oakland, California, halted the scheduled Feb. 5, 2024 trial after preliminary settlement discussions between Google’s lawyers and consumers.
The lawsuit, seeking over $5 billion, didn’t reveal settlement terms but confirmed a binding term sheet through mediation.
Google and the plaintiffs anticipate presenting the formal settlement for court approval by Feb. 24, 2024.
The allegations state that Google’s analytics, cookies, and apps bypassed users’ “Incognito” or “private” browsing settings, transforming the company into an extensive repository of personal information.
The case continued on with the original plaintiffs, and Judge Rogers rejected Google’s dismissal bid, emphasizing doubts over Google’s commitment to refraining from data collection in private mode.
The lawsuit, filed in 2020, spanned millions of users since June 2016, aiming for a minimum of $5,000 per user for federal wire-tapping and California privacy law violations.
The case, Brown et al v Google LLC et al, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 20-03664, sheds light on privacy concerns and the accountability of tech giants in safeguarding user data.
In November 2022, Google also reached a $391.5 million settlement related to Google’s practice of tracking the location of users to better target them with advertisements.
This settlement resolved allegations that Google continued to collect users’ location information, even after users disabled location tracking.
Google is also facing a proposed judgment that would require the company to pay $93 million to California for similar user tracking practices.