Google Incognito Lawsuit
Back in 2023, it was the United States that accused the tech giant Google of invading the privacy of its users. The groundbreaking class-action lawsuit claimed that Google was surreptitiously tracking users even when they thought they were safely navigating the digital realm in “private mode.”
The legal battle sought justice from the world’s go-to search engine and its parent company, Alphabet, as it faced the ire of users who believed their privacy had been compromised. Large technology firms have been under increased scrutiny globally, but this case struck a chord in the heart of Silicon Valley.
The drama unfolded in the courtroom of US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, who recently pressed pause on the scheduled trial in California after receiving news of a preliminary settlement. Google’s attempts to have the case dismissed were rejected earlier in the year by Judge Rogers, who emphatically stated that she could not agree that users had willingly consented to Google collecting information on their private browsing activity.
The class action, initiated by law firm Boies Schiller Flexner in 2020, argued that Google had been playing spy even when users had their Google Chrome browsers set to “Incognito” mode or other browsers set to “private mode.” This alleged intrusion, the lawsuit claimed, had transformed Google into an “unaccountable trove of information” on user preferences and potentially embarrassing details.
Details of the settlement remain shrouded in secrecy, adding an extra layer of suspense to the narrative. However, insiders predict that lawyers will formally present the settlement to the court for approval by February 2024.
Google, known for its transparency—or lack thereof, according to critics—has defended its practices, asserting that it had been forthright about the data it collected when users viewed content in private mode. The tech giant argued that the collection of search history, even in private viewing mode, was aimed at helping site owners assess the performance of their content, products, and marketing strategies.
The battle doesn’t end here for Google, as it faces additional lawsuits challenging its search and digital advertising practices. Just this month, the tech behemoth agreed to pay a whopping $700 million to settle another lawsuit brought by a coalition of US states, accusing Google of stifling competition on its Play Store for Android devices.
In a tale of legal twists and turns, Google also found itself on the losing end of a court battle against Fortnite maker Epic Games. The lawsuit, filed in 2020, accused Google of unlawfully establishing dominance over rivals through its app store—a fitting reminder that the tech giant’s journey through the legal labyrinth is far from over.
As the dust settles on this $5 billion privacy saga, the world watches with bated breath to see how these legal challenges will shape the future of privacy in the digital age and whether other tech giants will be forced to reconsider their own practices in the ever-evolving landscape of data protection.