ScienceTech

Google Resolves $5 Billion Consumer Privacy Lawsuit

Google, under its parent company Alphabet, has reached a preliminary settlement in a lawsuit alleging the covert tracking of internet activities of users who believed they were browsing privately.
US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, situated in Oakland, California, postponed the trial scheduled for February 5, 2024, following an announcement on Thursday by attorneys representing both Google and the consumers involved, indicating they had reached a preliminary agreement.
The lawsuit, seeking a minimum of $5 billion in damages, did not disclose the settlement terms. However, the lawyers mentioned their mutual consent to a binding term sheet following mediation. They anticipate presenting a formal settlement to the court for approval by February 24, 2024.
Neither Alphabet’s Google nor the legal representatives for the plaintiff consumers immediately provided comments or responses to queries.
The plaintiffs’ claims revolved around Google’s alleged tracking mechanisms, including analytics, cookies, and apps, purportedly enabling the company to monitor user activity, even when utilizing Google’s Chrome browser’s “Incognito” mode or other browsers’ “private” browsing settings.
The lawsuit contended that this practice transformed Google into an “unaccountable repository of information,” granting the company access to details regarding users’ social circles, interests, preferred foods, shopping tendencies, and potentially sensitive online searches.
Earlier in August, Judge Rogers dismissed Google’s attempt to dismiss the lawsuit, highlighting the uncertainty over whether Google had made a legally enforceable commitment to refrain from collecting users’ data during private browsing. The judge referenced Google’s privacy policy and statements from the company hinting at limitations on data collection.
Initially filed in 2020, the lawsuit encompassed “millions” of Google users from June 1, 2016, seeking damages of at least $5,000 per user for alleged violations of federal wiretapping and California privacy statutes.

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