(CTN News) – Alphabet’s subsidiary, Google, has resolved a lawsuit that accused the tech giant of secretly monitoring the online activities of users who believed their browsing sessions were private.
The trial, which was set to take place on February 5, 2024, was halted by US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in Oakland, California after both Google and the consumers’ lawyers revealed a preliminary settlement.
The lawsuit, which sought a minimum of $5 billion in damages, alleged privacy breaches related to Google’s analytics, cookies, and apps that supposedly continued tracking user behavior even when browsers were set to “Incognito” or “private” modes.
According to the plaintiffs, this allowed amassing an extensive collection of user information, making the company privy to details such as friends, hobbies, preferences, and potentially embarrassing online searches.
They argued that Google had become an entity with no accountability, possessing a wealth of personal data.
While the specific terms of the settlement have not been disclosed, attorneys have confirmed that they have agreed to a binding term sheet through mediation. They expect to present a formal settlement to the court for approval by February 24, 2024. As of now, Google and the legal representatives of the plaintiffs have refrained from commenting on the settlement.
In August, Judge Rogers denied an attempt to dismiss the lawsuit, emphasizing the uncertainty surrounding whether Google had made a legally binding commitment to refrain from collecting data during private browsing.
The lawsuit, filed in 2020, encompassed a significant number of Google users since June 1, 2016, and sought damages of at least $5,000 per user for alleged violations of federal wiretapping and California privacy laws.