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Google hastily crosses legs and closes window on 'Incognito Mode' lawsuit

Google has agreed to settle a lawsuit over claims that it had misrepresented the way in which it handles Incognito browser activity in Chrome

Google parent company Alphabet has settled a case with customers who accused it of tracking Incognito Mode activity.

The search giant said that it had reached a settlement deal in the 2020 lawsuit over the way it handled the personal data of its users.

"The Parties are presently preparing a final and definitive settlement agreement, which they anticipate executing within 30 days of this filing and then presenting for this Court’s approval within 30 days thereafter (i.e., within 60 days of this filing)," Google said in filing its notice of the agreement.

"To avoid any unnecessary waste of judicial resources and to allow the Parties to focus their efforts entirely on finalizing the settlement, the Parties jointly and respectfully request that the Court stay this litigation in its entirety and vacate the trial date."

The settlement would put to bed any ongoing legal scuffles Google has between customers who might have felt it was less than forthcoming in the way it handled user traffic when Chrome users fired up the browser in its Incognito Mode.

A class action of users hard charged that Chrome had mislead them when it said that their browser activities in the hidden mode would not be logged and recorded.

While it is known that such modes would prevent local logging of browsing activity and cookie retention, the suit claimed that Google had kept additional information beyond what it said.

"Google’s practices infringe upon users’ privacy; intentionally deceive consumers; give Google and its employees power to learn intimate details about individuals’ lives, interests, and internet usage; and make Google 'one stop shopping' for any government, private, or criminal actor who wants to undermine individuals’ privacy, security, or freedom," they wrote.

"Through its pervasive data tracking business, Google knows who your friends are, what your hobbies are, what you like to eat, what movies you watch, where and when you like to shop, what your favorite vacation destinations are, what your favorite color is, and even the most intimate and potentially embarrassing things you browse on the internet—regardless of whether you follow Google’s advice to keep your activities 'private'."

It should be noted that such settlements do not normally conclude admissions of wrongdoing and are conducted as a way of avoiding a lengthy court case, regardless of culpability.