In 2020, Google found itself embroiled in a lawsuit that claimed the company tracked the activities of Chrome users even when they were in Incognito mode. Initially seeking $5 billion in damages, the case proceeded after Google’s attempt to have it dismissed failed. Although the specific details of the settlement are undisclosed, both parties have agreed to terms presented to the court for approval in February.
The plaintiffs argued that Google utilized tools like Analytics, apps, and browser plug-ins to monitor users, asserting that by doing so in Incognito mode, the company misled users into thinking they had control over the information they shared. Google, in response, stated that while Incognito mode doesn’t save user activity on devices, websites could still collect information during sessions.
Internal emails presented by the plaintiffs suggested conversations among Google executives confirming the company’s monitoring of Incognito browser usage for ad sales and web traffic tracking. The lawsuit accused Google of violating federal wire-tapping and California privacy laws, seeking up to $5,000 per affected user. The plaintiffs contended that millions of Incognito users since 2016 may have been impacted, justifying the substantial damages sought.
While Google is likely settling for an amount lower than $5 billion, the specific terms remain undisclosed as the company has yet to provide an official statement.