Google to Settle Lawsuit for Tracking Users in Private Mode

Google has agreed to settle a lawsuit alleging the tech company collected data of users browsing in “incognito” mode.

The company will pay at least $5 billion, or a minimum of $5,000 for each user tracked.

The lawsuit was filed in 2020 by five plaintiffs accusing Google of tracking users even after they set the browser to the “incognito,” or private, mode.

Despite setting Google Chrome to be private, the lawsuit alleges that users’ IP address and location data were still collected.

Google and the plaintiffs in the case have now “agreed to a binding term sheet that would resolve the claims in this litigation, pending the Court’s approval,” according to a notice.

In 2022, Texas and the District of Columbia sued Google over deceptive location tracking practices that invaded users’ privacy.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton argued that Google misled consumers by continuing to track their location even when users sought to prevent it.

Google has a “Location History” setting and informs users if they turn it off “the places you go are no longer stored,” according to a press release from Paxton’s office, which added that Google “continues to track users’ location through other settings and methods that it fails to adequately disclose.”

“Google’s founding motto is ‘Don’t Be Evil.’ And yet it systematically lies to millions of consumers in order to stack billions of dollars into its coffers,” Paxton said. “Big Tech companies like Google continue to erode the American way of life and often break the law to maintain their overwhelming dominant market position. This lawsuit is just another part of my fight against Big Tech. I’ll hold Google accountable for misleading and deceiving Texans. This is not only an unethical invasion of privacy—it’s against the law.”

“Google falsely led consumers to believe that changing their account and device settings would allow customers to protect their privacy and control what personal data the company could access,” said Washington, D.C. AG Karl Racine. “The truth is that contrary to Google’s representations it continues to systematically surveil customers and profit from customer data. Google’s bold misrepresentations are a clear violation of consumers’ privacy.