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Google to ‘destroy’ data collected from Chrome Incognito mode following settlement

3 weeks ago 24

An ongoing lawsuit has questioned Google’s continued collection of browsing data from the Chrome browser’s incognito mode. Now, as part of a settlement for the case, Google has pledged to “destroy” that data.

Incognito mode in Google Chrome, like private browsing modes in other internet browsers, is designed to throw away any local browsing data on your device, allowing you to browse without data collection from accounts, or leaving any browsing history. A 2020 lawsuit took issue with the fact that Google could still capture data while users were in Incognito mode, though, and sought damages of $5 billion.

In December of 2023, it was revealed that Google would settle in the lawsuit, but the terms of the settlement weren’t disclosed at the time.

Now, The Wall Street Journal reports that Google will, as part of the settlement, get rid of a huge amount of data collected from Chrome Incognito mode. “Billions” of data points collected from Incognito mode will be “destroyed” according to the settlement terms, though it’s unclear if Google will continue to delete this data going forward, as the existing data is being deleted because it was “improperly collected.”

The settlement will also require Google to make changes to its Incognito mode disclaimer to “update disclosures about what it collects in private browsing” as well as giving users the option to disable/black third-party cookies. Google, earlier this year, also started preparing an update to the Incognito mode disclaimer in Chrome to more specifically call out that browsing data can still be visible to Google itself, as well as adding a toggle to block third-party cookies.

The new Chrome Incognito disclaimer (not yet live in stable)
The new Chrome Incognito disclaimer (not yet live in stable)
The new Chrome Incognito disclaimer (not yet live in stable)

The lawsuit originally sought damages of $5,000 per user, but the settlement makes no mention of mass payouts for individual users, but does leave open individual claims.

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