Alphabet’s Google settled a lawsuit alleging it secretly tracked the internet use of millions of users who believed their browsing was private. On Thursday, US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in Oakland, California, put on hold the trial in the proposed class action, scheduled for 5th February 2024. This move came after Google’s lawyers and consumer representatives announced they had reached a preliminary settlement.

The lawsuit claimed that Google’s analytics, cookies, and apps enabled the Alphabet unit to track consumer activity, even when users set the Chrome browser to “Incognito” mode and other browsers to “private” browsing mode.

Google Settles Lawsuit Over Alleged Privacy Violations

The lawsuit sought a minimum of $5 Billion. Although settlement terms remained undisclosed, lawyers confirmed an agreed-upon binding term sheet through mediation. They anticipate presenting a formal settlement for court approval by 24th February 2024.

Requests for comment were unanswered by both Google and the plaintiff consumers’ lawyers.

The plaintiffs accused Google of using its analytics, cookies, and apps to track consumer activity, even when browsing privately. According to them, this transformed Google into an “unaccountable trove of information,” allowing the company to discover details about their friends, hobbies, favourite foods, shopping habits, and potentially embarrassing online searches.

Judge Denied Google’s Bid to Dismiss Privacy Lawsuit

In August, Judge Rogers denied Google’s attempt to dismiss the lawsuit, questioning whether Google had made a legally binding commitment to refrain from collecting users’ data in private mode. The judge referenced Google’s privacy policy and company statements indicating restrictions on data collection.

Initiated in 2020, the lawsuit encompassed “millions” of Google users from 1st June 2016 onward, seeking a minimum of $5,000 in damages per user for alleged violations of federal wiretapping and California privacy laws.

The case, identified as Brown et al v Google LLC et al, is in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, with docket number 20-03664.


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