Google Reaches Settlement Over $5B Privacy Lawsuit

Google Reaches Settlement Over $5B Privacy Lawsuit

News by Roberto Orosa
Published: December 29, 2023

Google has reached a preliminary settlement in a lawsuit accusing the tech giant of monitoring the online activities of millions of users who believed they were browsing in private in "Incognito" mode.

U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers decided to suspend the scheduled trial set for February 5 in response to the announcement of the proposed class action settlement.

The legal dispute, which sought damages totaling a minimum of $5 billion, was brought against Google by consumers who believe the search giant had committed privacy violations.

While the specifics of the settlement remain confidential, lawyers from both parties have verified a legally binding term sheet made through mediation.

A formal settlement proposal is expected to be presented to the court for approval by February 24.

Google and representatives for the plaintiff consumers have refrained from immediate comments regarding the settlement.

What Was Google Accused Of? 

The lawsuit contended that Google's use of analytics, cookies and applications allowed the company to track user activities, even when individuals employed the "Incognito" mode on Google Chrome or utilized other browsers in "private" browsing mode.

The plaintiffs argued that this practice transformed Google into an "unaccountable trove of information," allowing the company to gain insights into users' friendships, hobbies, food preferences, shopping behaviors and potentially sensitive online searches.

In August, Judge Rogers rejected Google's attempt to have the lawsuit dismissed.

She emphasized the unresolved question of whether Google had made a legally binding commitment not to collect user data during private browsing, referring to Google's privacy policy and other company statements that indicated potential limitations on data collection.

Filed in 2020, the lawsuit encompassed "millions" of Google users since June 2016, and sought a minimum of $5,000 in damages per user for alleged violations of federal wiretapping and California privacy laws.

Subscribe to Spotlight Newsletter
Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest industry news