Alphabet’s Google has reached a preliminary settlement in a class-action lawsuit that accused the tech giant of secretly tracking the internet activity of users who believed they were browsing privately in incognito mode. U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in Oakland, California, has postponed the trial scheduled for Feb. 5, 2024, following the announcement of the settlement by lawyers for both Google and the plaintiffs. While the lawsuit initially sought at least $5 billion, the terms of the settlement remain undisclosed.
The lawsuit alleged that Google’s analytics, cookies, and apps could track users’ activity even when they used “Incognito” mode in Chrome or similar “private” browsing modes in other browsers. The plaintiffs argued that this practice turned Google into an “unaccountable trove of information,” allowing the company to gather details about users’ friends, hobbies, personal preferences, and potentially sensitive online searches.
The lawyers disclosed that they have agreed on a binding term sheet through mediation and expect to present a formal settlement for court approval by Feb. 24, 2024. The case is Brown et al v Google LLC et al, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 20-03664.