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Google settles $5 billion privacy lawsuit over tracking people using 'incognito mode'

Google agreed on Thursday to settle a $5 billion privacy lawsuit claiming that it continued spying on people who used the "incognito" mode in its Chrome browser — along with similar "private browsing" modes in other browsers — to track their internet use.
Matt Slocum
/
AP
Google agreed on Thursday to settle a $5 billion privacy lawsuit claiming that it continued spying on people who used the "incognito" mode in its Chrome browser — along with similar "private browsing" modes in other browsers — to track their internet use.

SAN FRANCISCO — Google has agreed to settle a $5 billion privacy lawsuit alleging that it spied on people who used the "incognito" mode in its Chrome browser — along with similar "private" modes in other browsers — to track their internet use.

The class-action lawsuit filed in 2020 said Google misled users into believing that it wouldn't track their internet activities while using incognito mode. It argued that Google's advertising technologies and other techniques continued to catalog details of users' site visits and activities despite their use of supposedly "private" browsing.

Plaintiffs also charged that Google's activities yielded an "unaccountable trove of information" about users who thought they'd taken steps to protect their privacy.

The settlement, reached Thursday, must still be approved by a federal judge. Terms weren't disclosed, but the suit originally sought $5 billion on behalf of users; lawyers for the plaintiffs said they expect to present the court with a final settlement agreement by Feb. 24.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the settlement.

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