Google to destroy billions of browsing records to settle incognito lawsuit

Tech giant Google has agreed to destroy billions of data records to settle a lawsuit claiming that it secretly kept records of internet users who thought they were browsing privately while in incognito mode.

As part of the settlement, Google will also update its disclosure to inform users what data will be stored, even if the browser is in incognito mode on Chrome. Terms of the settlement were finalized in an Oakland Federal Court.

The suit was originally filed by several plaintiffs in 2020. Attorneys for the plaintiffs placed a valuation of a little more than $5 billion to $7.8 billion for the privacy concerns. However, Google won’t face a financial penalty as part of the settlement, although the plaintiffs can pursue monetary damages individually in separate filings.

Users alleged that Google — which is owned by California-based company Alphabet — used its analytics, apps, and cookies to improperly track people’s browsing data, even though they were either in incognito or private mode.

Another caveat of the settlement is that for the next five years, Google will allow users who are in private browsing modes to block third-party cookies.