Google’s attempt to dismiss a $5 billion lawsuit accusing the company of infringing on the privacy of millions of consumers through covert tracking of their online actions has been unsuccessful, as revealed by a recent court filing in California. The court’s decision states that it cannot be definitively determined that users granted informed consent to Google for the collection of their personal data.
The court’s order highlights Google’s portrayal of its private browsing mode, emphasising that the company’s promotion of “going Incognito” and “browsing privately” could be interpreted as users asserting an expectation of privacy. The court suggests that Google has the opportunity to present an opposing argument during the trial.
This class-action lawsuit could have significant implications for Google, focusing on the tools it provides to safeguard privacy on its browsing services, particularly the “Incognito” mode on Google Chrome. The lawsuit alleges that Google continued to monitor and track users’ online activities even when they switched to the incognito mode. The complaint also asserts that Google collected data related to users’ online interactions in the “private” mode of other browsers, like Safari.
The court’s decision to reject Google’s bid to dismiss the case is seen as a significant development that could potentially lead to a trial or settlement, presenting substantial challenges for the company. A representative of the lawsuit described the court’s ruling as a vital step in safeguarding the privacy rights of numerous Americans.
In response to the court’s decision, Google refuted the claims made in the lawsuit and emphasized its commitment to a robust defense.
The class-action lawsuit, filed in 2020 under California privacy and federal wiretapping laws, seeks damages of at least $5,000 per user. The lawsuit covers Google users from June 2016 onward.