Google agrees to delete browsing data

Google said it would delete millions of records of users’ browsing activities as part of a settlement of a class-action lawsuit that alleged it tracked people without their knowledge.

The case, filed in 2020, alleged the Alphabet Inc unit surreptitiously collected data from people using its popular Chrome web browser in a private “incognito” browsing mode. 

While that function lets users turn off data collection when using the Chrome browser, other Google tools used by websites, such as advertising technology, scoop up their data anyway, according to the suit.

Google, which agreed to settle in December, will expunge “billions” of data records that reflect people’s private browsing, according to details that were made public Monday in a filing at San Francisco federal court. 

Google also said it made several changes to its disclosures to clarify how people’s data is collected as well as what activity is visible to websites when users browse in “incognito” mode. And the company agreed for the next five years to allow incognito mode users to block third-party cookies.

“We are pleased to settle this lawsuit, which we always believed was meritless,” Jose Castaneda, Google spokesperson, said in a statement. “We never associate data with users when they use incognito mode. 

We are happy to delete old technical data that was never associated with an individual and was never used for any form of personalisation.”

While the plaintiffs asked for US$5 billion in damages, the settlement includes no payment from Google. 

Instead, individuals will be able to pursue damages by filing their own complaints against Google in US state courts, according to court papers. About 50 people have already done so, plaintiffs’ lawyers said. — Bloomberg.

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