In 2020, Google faced a lawsuit for allegedly tracking Chrome users’ activities during Incognito mode. After an unsuccessful attempt to dismiss the lawsuit, the company has agreed to settle the complaint, which initially sought $5 billion in damages. The terms of the settlement have not been disclosed, but they are slated for court approval in February, as reported by Reuters and The Washington Post.
The plaintiffs claimed Google used various tools to monitor users, falsely leading them to believe they had control over their shared information. A Google spokesperson stated that while Incognito mode does not save a user’s activity on their device, websites can still collect their information during the session.
The lawsuit’s plaintiffs presented internal emails allegedly showing conversations between Google executives, indicating the company monitored Incognito browser usage to sell ads and track web traffic. They accused Google of violating federal wire-tapping and California privacy laws, seeking up to $5,000 per affected user. The plaintiffs estimated millions of Incognito users may have been affected since 2016, justifying the large damages sought. Google has not disclosed details of the settlement or provided an official statement to Engadget.