Google has agreed to a settlement in a consumer privacy lawsuit demanding at least $5 billion in damages, alleging that the tech giant tracked user data while they believed they were browsing the internet privately.

The lawsuit revolved around Google’s “incognito” mode on its Chrome browser, which plaintiffs argued falsely reassured users that their online activity was shielded from the tech giant’s tracking. Internal Google emails surfaced during the lawsuit revealed that users in incognito mode were, in fact, being monitored for web traffic measurement and ad sales purposes.

Legal Proceedings and Impact

A preliminary agreement between Google’s lawyers and the class action lawsuit was confirmed by the judge overseeing the case. Originally filed in 2020, the lawsuit estimated that millions of individuals might have been affected by Google Analytics or Ad Manager services, seeking compensation of at least $5,000 per user tracked, potentially totalling $5 billion – just under £4 billion.

While the settlement amount remains undisclosed, it’s unlikely to reach the sought-after figure.

The settlement follows a recent denial of Google’s request for the case to be decided by a judge, setting the stage for a jury trial scheduled for the upcoming year. The lawsuit, centred in a California court, accused Google of deliberately deceiving users with the incognito feature, infringing on their privacy by acquiring extensive details about their lives and online activities.

The proposed settlement is pending court approval, expected to undergo formal proceedings by February 24, 2024.

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