April 16, 2024

La Ronge Northerner

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Google deletes billions of Chrome browser logs in latest settlement

Google deletes billions of Chrome browser logs in latest settlement

In recent months, Google has scrambled to settle a backlog of lawsuits ahead of major antitrust showdowns with the Justice Department later this year.

On Monday, the company resolved its fourth case in four months, agreeing to delete billions of data records it had collected on millions of Chrome users, according to a legal filing. The lawsuit, Chasom Brown, et al. Fifth. Google said the company misled users by tracking their online activity in Chrome's incognito mode, which they thought would be private.

Since December, Google has spent more than $1 billion settling lawsuits as it prepares to fight the Justice Department, which has targeted Google's search engine and advertising business in a pair of lawsuits.

In December, Google settled a lawsuit with dozens of attorneys general alleging that it forcefully forced app makers to pay high fees. Six weeks later, the company settled a case that accused it of improperly sharing users' private information from the defunct social media site, Google+. In March, Google agreed to pay an undisclosed sum to Cingular Computing, a Massachusetts-based company, after it was accused of stealing patent designs, an allegation that Google denies.

To put an end to the incognito mode claims, Google has committed to “rewriting its disclosures to inform users that Google collects private browsing data,” according to the settlement filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Users can already see the reveal on the landing page when they open incognito mode.

For the next five years, Google has agreed to maintain the change to Incognito mode that blocks third-party cookies by default, limiting the amount of web users that can be tracked by sites.

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“This requirement ensures additional privacy for future Incognito users, while limiting the amount of data Google collects from them,” the plaintiffs’ attorneys, led by senior attorney David Boies, said in the lawsuit.

Google will also stop using technology that detects when users enable private browsing, so it can no longer track people's choice to use incognito mode. While Google will not pay the plaintiffs as part of the settlement, individuals have the option of suing the company for damages.

Google said in a statement that the lawsuit is baseless.

“Plaintiffs originally wanted $5 billion, but they got zero,” Google spokesman Jose Castañeda said. “We are happy to delete outdated technical data that was never associated with an individual and was never used for any form of personalization.”

The trial was scheduled to begin in early February, although the parties said in December that they had agreed to a settlement.

He added, “The settlement prevents Google from surreptitiously collecting user data worth billions of dollars, according to Google's own estimates.” Boyes said Monday.