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New report claims Google will get rid of data collected by Chrome's Incognito mode

When Google launched the first beta of its Chrome web browser back in 2008, it threw in what it called an "incognito mode", where any site that is visited by your web browsing would not be added to your history.

However, the incognito mode later became the subject of a class action lawsuit in 2020. The lawsuit accused Google of, among other things, allowing its own Google Analytics and Google Ad Manager services to track users in Chrome and other apps while they were in incognito mode. The lawsuit was asking for damages up to $5 billion.

In December 2023, there was word that Google was in negotiations to try to settle the lawsuit before it officially went to trial. Today, a new report from The Wall Street Journal claims to have some of the conditions of this settlement.

According to the story, Google has agreed to either destroy or de-identify millions of data points it has collected from Chrome users while they used the Incognito mode. The company must update its official disclosures concerning what kinds of data it collects from Chrome and Incognito users.

In this settlement, Google would also have to keep a setting on in Chrome that will block any third-party cookies in the browser as its default setting for five years. However, the company's plan to get rid of all third-party cookies via its Privacy Sandbox may make this part of the settlement academic.

In a statement to the WSJ, attorney David Boies, who represents the plaintiffs in this case, stated:

This settlement is an historic step in requiring honesty and accountability from dominant technology companies.

Even though there is a settlement plan in place, it will still need to be approved by Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers. The settlement does not offer any money to the plaintiffs, but they are free to file separate lawsuits against Google to see if they can get some cash from them.

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