Due to a lawsuit, Google must delete browsing data in “Incognito” mode.

(CNN) — Google Billions of data records will be deleted as part of a settlement in a lawsuit that accused the tech giant of improperly tracking the web browsing habits of users who thought they were browsing privately.

The lawsuit was originally filed in 2020 and accused Google of misrepresenting the type of data it collects from users browsing the Internet through Chrome's “incognito” private browsing mode. Google agreed to settle the lawsuit late last year, but the terms of the settlement were revealed for the first time in a filing on Monday.

As part of the settlement, Google must delete “billions of data records” that reflect the private browsing activities of users in the class action, according to court papers filed Monday in federal court in San Francisco.

January 7, 2023: Incognito tab on smartphone in a private browser.  (Credit: picsmart/Alamy Stock Photo)

January 7, 2023: Incognito tab on smartphone in a private browser. (Credit: picsmart/Alamy Stock Photo)

Google will also update its information to let users know what data it collects every time a user starts a private browsing session. Google has already started implementing these changes.

Over the next five years, Google will also allow private browsing users to block third-party cookies as part of the agreement. Likewise, Google will stop tracking users' decisions to browse the Internet privately.

David Boies, an attorney representing the consumer plaintiffs, called the settlement “a historic step in demanding honesty and accountability from major technology companies” in a statement to CNN on Monday.

“In addition, the settlement requires Google to delete and correct, on an unprecedented scale and scale, data it has improperly collected in the past,” Boyes added.

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Google spokesman Jose Castañeda told CNN that the company is “pleased to have reached a settlement in this lawsuit, which we have always believed to be meritless.”

“We never link data to users when they use incognito mode,” Castañeda added. “We are happy to delete outdated technical data that was never associated with an individual and was never used for any form of personalization.”

Castañeda added that the plaintiffs “originally wanted US$5 billion and got nothing.”

Terms of the settlement revealed in court filings Monday stipulated that users would not receive damages as part of that agreement, but could still sue for damages individually.

Myrtle Frost

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