Google has agreed to pay £5 billion to settle a privacy controversy. According to the lawsuit, Google tracked people’s online activities by using the “incognito mode” in its Chrome browser and similar private modes in other browsers.
The case, filed in 2020 in the Northern District of California U.S. District Court, involves “millions” of Google users. The lawsuit intends $5,000 in damages per user or three times the amount of actual damage.
According to the attorneys, the information became an “unreliable resource.” This happened when the company comprehended more about the friends, favourite cuisines, shopping preferences, pastimes, and possibly awkward internet searches of its end-users.
The charges made against Google’s parent corporation, Alphabet Inc., centre on the suspected illegal collecting of user browser history and activity data. This is probably related to a number of plug-ins and programmes for websites, including Google Ad Manager and Analytics.
Google tried to dismiss the allegations by emphasising the disclaimer that appears when users use Chrome’s incognito mode. The notification informs users that their online activity may still be visible to the websites they visit, their employer or school, or their internet service provider.
Google has stated that websites using advertising technology and analytics APIs continue to track visitors even while in incognito mode. This tracking can include related actions such as matching IP addresses.
A lot of users think their data is safe and confidential when they use their web browsers in incognito mode. This assumption gives users a false sense of security since they believe their information is private and undetectable by third parties.
U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers has rescheduled the proposed collective action trial until February 5, 2024. The decision follows the announcement by attorneys for both Google and customers that they had struck a preliminary settlement.
It is important for users who have concerns about their online privacy to compare VPNs and browser privacy options. When it comes to protecting against unauthorised access, browser privacy modes are less efficient than VPNs since they do not have important privacy features like IP cloaking and traffic encryption. However, through traffic obfuscation, IP address masking, and secure data transfers, choosing the right VPN may significantly increase privacy measures.
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