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Google agrees to settle $5 bn consumer privacy lawsuit

An illuminated Google logo is seen inside an office building in Zurich. - Reuters File
An illuminated Google logo is seen inside an office building in Zurich. - Reuters File
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SAN FRANCISCO: Google has agreed to settle a consumer privacy lawsuit seeking at least $5 billion in damages over allegations it tracked the data of users who thought they were browsing privately.


In a court filing, the judge confirmed that lawyers for Google reached a preliminary agreement to settle the class action lawsuit -- originally filed in 2020 -- which claimed that "millions of individuals" had likely been affected.


Lawyers for the plaintiffs were seeking at least $5,000 for each user it said had been tracked by the firm as they visited Google Analytics or Ad Manager in "private browsing mode" while not logged into their Google account.


This would have amounted to at least $5 billion. Google and lawyers for the consumers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


The lawsuit, filed in a California court, claimed Google's practices had infringed on users' privacy by "intentionally" deceiving them. The original complaint alleged that Google and its employees had been given the "power to learn intimate details about individuals' lives, interests, and internet usage."


"Google has made itself an unaccountable trove of information so detailed and expansive that George Orwell could never have dreamed it," it added.


No figure was given for the preliminary settlement between the parties. A formal settlement is expected for court approval by February 24, 2024. - AFP


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