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Unsettled Query: Google’s Data Collection Practices Questioned in  $5 Billion Consumer Privacy Lawsuit

Unsettled Query: Google’s Data Collection Practices Questioned in $5 Billion Consumer Privacy Lawsuit

 By Charles Joseph | Cybersecurity Researcher
 Published on December 29th, 2023

Alphabet’s Google has consented to a settlement in a consumer privacy lawsuit that accused the tech giant of clandestinely tracking the internet usage of millions who believed they were browsing in private. The case, filed in California by U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, scheduled for trial on February 5, 2024, is now postponed following this preliminary agreement.

Both parties’ lawyers said that they arrived at an understanding through mediation and aim to present it for court approval by February 24, 2024. The specific terms of the settlement remain undisclosed to the public. 

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The original lawsuit pursued damages amounting to at least $5 billion. It alleged that Google utilized analytics tools, cookies technology, and apps to monitor user online behavior even during browser sessions set to private or “Incognito” modes -including Chrome- which is a product owned by Google.

This claimed secret surveillance essentially turned Google into an overwhelming repository of personal information about its users’ lives, like their connections, pastimes, favored meals, and shopping patterns procured from their Internet searches and activities.

Judge Rogers denied a plea from Google seeking dismissal of this lawsuit last August preceding these recent developments.

An unsettled query looming over this was whether or not Google had legally committed not to gather data during private or Incognito web surfing sessions. Although proclamations from the company hinted some restraint on data collection practices, they did not unequivocally resolve this question.

In 2020, the legal claim encompassed “millions” of consumers since June 1st of 2016 under federal wire-tapping and Californian privacy laws advocating for minimum compensation figures pegged at $5000 per user violation.

"Amateurs hack systems, professionals hack people."
-- Bruce Schneier, a renown computer security professional
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