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Google Says Will Destroy Browsing Data Collected In Incognito Mode

 Google Says Will Destroy Browsing Data Collected In Incognito Mode

Google headquarters (Photo: Wikimedia)

Internet giant Google has said that it would destroy billions of records to settle a lawsuit that claimed it secretly tracked the internet usage of people who were searching on incognito mode on the browser.

The users alleged that Google’s analytics, cookies and apps let the Alphabet unit improperly track people who set Google’s Chrome browser to “Incognito” mode.

The plaintiffs said that Google held an “unaccountable trove of information” by which it learnt about friends, favourite foods, hobbies, shopping habits and the “most intimate and potentially embarrassing things” they hunt for online.

The terms of the settlement were filed in a federal court in California. Under the settlement, the company will update disclosures about what it collects in “private” browsing, a process it has already begun.

According to The Guardian, the plaintiffs’ lawyers have issued a statement saying that the result will lead to Google collecting less data from users’ private browsing sessions.

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This will lead to Google changing the default settings for Incognito Mode so that the browser will not collect third-party cookies—and the company will be required to maintain this setting as the default for the next five years.

Although the lawsuit did not gain class-action status for financial damages, some users wasted no time in filing individual suits.

Experts have pointed out that the effectiveness of erasing improperly collected data is also questionable as the lawsuit only covers information dating back to 2016. Most of the data may have been sold to third parties or incorporated into other products not covered by the settlement.

The company has faced similar suits before. In 2022, the Texas attorney general sued the company, alleging that “incognito mode or ‘private browsing’ is a web browser function that implies to consumers that Google will not track your search history or location activity”.