Google promises to erase Incognito browsing data as part of settlement

Google Chrome logo on a phone screen
(Image credit: Jay Bonggolto / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google has agreed to delete billions of browsing data in an attempt to settle the Incognito class action lawsuit. 
  • The tech giant has also agreed to update their disclaimers on private browsing practices.
  • Google said that they will not be paying any money in damages.

This week, Google agreed to clear a trove of browsing data in an attempt to settle the infamous Incognito mode lawsuit, which was first brought to light in 2020, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The lawsuit alleged that Google Chrome was tracking its users' browsing data even while in 'incognito' mode, which allows users to browse without saving their browsing history. It also claims that the tech giant was not upfront about its data policies and misled its customers.

Earlier in January, Google admitted that it tracks users while in Incognito mode, even if Chrome doesn't save their browsing data. Even though it clearly states each time you open a new Incognito tab, websites might be able to collect information about your browsing activity during your session.

According to the publication, the settlement details were filed at the San Francisco federal court, stating that the company will now work on changing its policies around private browsing. 

Additionally, Google has agreed to destroy billions of data points that the lawsuit alleges were improperly collected, to update disclosures on its website stating the corrected policies on private browsing, and also to give Chrome users the ability to turn off third-party cookies.

"At a high level, we made several important changes to our disclosures to provide clarification on how your data is collected and how visible your activities are when you visit a website using Incognito Mode," a Google spokesperson stated.

The lawsuit alleged that Google violated federal wiretapping laws through this discrepancy. As compensation, the plaintiffs asked for a minimum of $5 billion, although Google confirmed to Android Central that it would not pay these damages. Nonetheless, Boies notes that the settlement represents "a historic step in requiring honesty and accountability from dominant technology companies." Boies said.

WSJ states that the agreement still needs final approval from Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in the Northern District of California.

Android Central contacted Google about this settlement, and a spokesperson said that they were pleased to settle this lawsuit, which they always believed was meritless. 

"We never associate data with users when they use Incognito mode. We are happy to delete old technical data that was never associated with an individual and was never used for any form of personalization," Castañeda added.

Nandika Ravi
News Editor

Nandika Ravi is an Editor for Android Central. Based in Toronto, after rocking the news scene as a Multimedia Reporter and Editor at Rogers Sports and Media, she now brings her expertise into the Tech ecosystem. When not breaking tech news, you can catch her sipping coffee at cosy cafes, exploring new trails with her boxer dog or leveling up in the gaming universe.

  • mmidgley
    Boies notes that the settlement represents "a historic step in requiring honesty and accountability from dominant technology companies." Boies said.

    Boies notes...what...Boies said. got it. has ac eliminated proofreading to get to publication faster?

    It's not just this editor either--Jerry wrote, "However, isn't the case if you use an eSIM." in his recent column.

    quality matters.