Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Google Settles Incognito Lawsuit

Simon Sharwood:

A US court filing [PDF] dated December 26 records that Google and the plaintiffs have agreed to a term sheet that, if approved by the judge, will conclude the matter. Those terms of the proposed settlement weren’t disclosed. But the parties seem sufficiently confident a deal will be done that another filing vacates the court date held for the matter, so all concerned can stop preparing for a trial and focus on nailing down the agreement.

Via Nick Heer:

This lawsuit has always seemed pretty dumb to me if you know what “Incognito Mode” is supposed to mean, something which Google spells out when you enable it in Chrome. However, I do think it is telling how much this relies on the fine print of how Google itself defines “incognito” compared to the word’s actual meaning, in a way that sort of reminds me of Tesla’s “Autopilot” and “Full Self-Driving” features.


Update (2024-02-01): ABP (via Hacker News):

Following the search engine’s agreement to settle a $5 billion USD privacy lawsuit that accused it of tracking users illegally in incognito mode, it has now updated the disclaimer to reflect the transparency. In its Canary version (Early-access version which allows users and developers to test new features and updates before they are rolled out for everyone), Google now states that data will still be collected even in Incognito mode.

The normal disclaimer which you can see in Incognito mode at the moment is- “Now you can browse privately, and other people who use this device won’t see your activity. However, downloads, bookmarks and reading list items will be saved.” However, in the Canary version, the disclaimer reads, “Others who use this device won’t see your activity, so you can browse more privately. This won’t change how data is collected by websites you visit and the services they use, including Google. Downloads, bookmarks and reading list items will be saved.”

Update (2024-04-02): Thomas Claburn:

In hopes of settling a lawsuit challenging its data collection practices, Google has agreed to destroy web browsing data it collected from users browsing in Chrome’s private modes – which weren’t as private as you might have thought.

Juli Clover:

Google plans to destroy “billions of data points” that were improperly collected, in addition to updating the wording in Incognito mode and disabling third-party cookies by default when using the feature (Google plans to get rid of cookies entirely later this year).

Will Shanklin:

It’s also questionable how effective the destruction of the improperly collected data will be. Considering that the suit covers information stretching back to 2016, it’s reasonable to assume the company sold much of the data to third parties long ago or incorporated it into separate products not covered by the settlement.

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