As part of a proposed class-action settlement filed on Monday (April 1), Google pledged to destroy or repair “billions of data records” collected through private browsing sessions.

The lawsuit, originally filed in June 2020, accused the search giant of violating California privacy laws when it collected Incognito mode data.

In the proposed settlement of Brown v. Google, the tech company will have to rewrite disclosures to inform users that private browsing data is collected from these sessions.

The plaintiffs are also asking for and “securing liability and relief from Google for its past conduct.” After a settlement is approved, the data records must be deleted or repaired.

Over the next five years, Google must also “maintain changes to Incognito Mode that enable Incognito users to block third-party cookies by default.”

Third-party cookies are small files that are tracked by websites other than your own, linking your browsing activity across different websites and allowing advertisers to deliver targeted ads.

The settlement must be approved by a judge before the changes can take effect.

“This settlement is a historic step toward requiring dominant technology companies to honestly represent to users how they collect and use user data, and how they delete and repair the data they collect,” the filing by the plaintiffs’ attorneys reads. “.

“We are pleased to have reached a settlement in this lawsuit, which we have long believed to be meritless,” Google spokesman José Castañeda said. “The plaintiffs originally wanted $5 billion,” the statement continued. , but the amount received is zero.

“We never associate data with users when they use incognito mode… We happily delete old technical data that has never been associated with an individual and has never been used for any form of personalization.”

Data and Big Tech

Google isn’t the first company to be criticized for its handling of data, with Meta, Apple, Microsoft and Amazon all hit by lawsuits over data mismanagement in the past few years.

This is one of the reasons for concern about TikTok, with concerns that the Chinese-owned company may be collecting sensitive user data of U.S. residents. TikTok says it holds U.S. data not in China, but in Singapore and the U.S., where it is transferred through cloud infrastructure operated by U.S. company Oracle.

Featured Image: Photo by Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash

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