Data vanishes while in disguise

Google’s $5 Billion Settlement to Destroy Private Browsing Data: Holding Big Tech Accountable for Privacy Rights

In a proposed class action settlement filed on Monday, Google has agreed to destroy or anonymize billions of records of web browsing data collected from users using “Incognito” private browsing mode. The decision comes as part of a lawsuit initiated by Google account holders who alleged that the company was illegally tracking their behavior through the private browsing feature. If approved by a federal judge in California, the settlement could impact 136 million Google users.

The proposed settlement, valued at $5 billion in Monday’s filing, was calculated by assessing the value of the data Google has stored and will have to destroy, as well as the data it will be restricted from collecting in the future. Under the terms of the agreement, Google is required to deal with data collected in private browsing mode until December 2023, and any data that is not explicitly deleted must be made anonymous. This agreement signifies real accountability and transparency from the largest data collector in the world, highlighting a crucial step towards improving and upholding privacy rights on the internet.

A Google spokesperson expressed that they are pleased to resolve the lawsuit, which they deemed baseless. Despite estimating that damages would total $5 billion, Castañeda clarified that no damages would be paid out under this settlement. However, individuals can still file claims for damages under California state law. The plaintiffs stated that they do not associate data with users when using Incognito mode and are willing to delete old technical data that has never been tied to an individual or used for personalization.

As part of this agreement, Google has also agreed to make changes in how it discloses the limitations of its private browsing services and implement new features like allowing users to block third-party cookies by default in Incognito mode for five years. This change will prevent tracking on external sites while using private browsing without compromising user privacy. Users can still file damages claims under California state court under this settlement’s terms, with over 50 requests already submitted.

In conclusion, this settlement marks a significant step towards protecting user privacy rights online and holds one of the largest tech companies accountable for their collection practices. As more people become aware of these issues and demand greater transparency and control over their personal information online, it is likely we will see more legal actions taken against companies such as Google in

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