The lawsuit on the search engine major had sought a minimum of $5bn, and while the settlement terms were not revealed, the attorneys confirmed a binding term sheet through mediation and expect to present a formal settlement for court approval by 24 February 2024
Google has agreed to the settlement of a lawsuit alleging that it covertly tracked the internet activities of millions of individuals who believed their browsing was private.
US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in Oakland, California, suspended a scheduled trial on 5 February 2024, in the proposed class action after lawyers for both Google and consumers announced a preliminary settlement, reported Reuters.
The lawsuit had sought a minimum of $5bn, and while the settlement terms were not disclosed, the attorneys confirmed a binding term sheet through mediation. They anticipate presenting a formal settlement for court approval by 24 February 2024.
The plaintiffs claimed that Google’s analytics, cookies, and apps allowed the Alphabet company to track their activity even when using Google Chrome in “Incognito” mode or other browsers in “private” browsing mode.
They contended that this transformed Google into an “unaccountable trove of information,” enabling the company to learn about users’ friends, hobbies, favorite foods, shopping habits, and potentially embarrassing online searches.
Judge Rogers rejected Google’s attempt to dismiss the lawsuit in August 2023, stating it remained unclear whether the search engine major had made a legally binding promise not to collect users’ data during private browsing.
In a 36-page ruling at that time, Rogers stated that the plaintiffs demonstrated the existence of a market for their data, referencing a Google pilot programme that compensated users $3 per day for sharing their browsing histories.
The lawsuit, filed in 2020, encompassed “millions” of Google users since 1 June 2016, seeking at least $5,000 in damages per user for alleged violations of federal wiretapping and California privacy laws.
Recently, Google agreed to a $700m settlement and a revamp of its Play app store, aiming to promote heightened competition as part of an effort to resolve an antitrust case with US states and consumers.