Google has recently agreed to resolve a $5 billion lawsuit over privacy concerns. The case, filed in California, centers around allegations that Google tracked the online activities of countless individuals who believed they were browsing privately.
The lawsuit was put on pause by US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in Oakland, California. This decision came after Google and the plaintiffs’ attorneys announced a tentative settlement agreement. Initially scheduled for trial on February 5, 2024, the lawsuit demanded a minimum of $5 billion in damages.
Specifics of the settlement remain under wraps. However, the parties involved confirmed they have a binding agreement, finalized through mediation. They anticipate submitting a formal settlement to the court by February 24, 2024.
Responses from Google and the plaintiffs’ lawyers regarding this matter were not immediately available.
The lawsuit accused Google of using analytics, cookies, and apps to monitor user activities, even when browsers like Google Chrome were set to “Incognito” mode or other browsers were in “private” mode. The plaintiffs argued that this allowed Google to amass a vast amount of personal information, including details about users’ social circles, hobbies, dietary preferences, shopping habits, and other sensitive online searches.
In August, Judge Rogers declined Google’s request to dismiss the case. She highlighted the ambiguity around Google’s commitment to not collecting user data during private browsing sessions. This was based on the company’s privacy policies and other statements that implied there might be limits to the data collection.
The lawsuit, which began in 2020, claims to represent “millions” of Google users from June 1, 2016, onwards. It sought damages of at least $5,000 per user, citing violations of federal wiretapping laws and California’s privacy statutes.