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Google will pay a  billion fine for monitoring anonymous tab activity

Google will pay a $1 billion fine for monitoring anonymous tab activity

Photo: Vitor Padua/Technoblog

After three years of proceedings, Google accepted a $5 billion lawsuit settlement for Anonymous Tab data monitoring, but must pay a smaller sum.

Last Thursday (28), Google agreed to pay a fine for monitoring users' activities in the incognito window (popularly known as the incognito tab). The lawsuit was filed in 2020 and revealed that even in private browsing mode, Google still records some user activities. The lawsuit sought $5 billion in damages, but the big tech companies may have reached an agreement to get a smaller amount — but still billions.

For those who are not familiar with incognito window/tab or are not teenagers after 2000s, this private browsing mode is designed not to save user data in the browser. Therefore, anyone who wants to open a social network on a shared computer or access the other website with “X” in the name can use anonymous mode to not save history, cookies, or leave a logged-in account.

Google Chrome does this naturally, however, its creator still tracks and records some activity to generate data for Google ads and monitor page traffic. This information was then linked to the user's Chrome profile. In translation, Google continued to use anonymous pages to profit from advertising. This has been done since at least June 2016.

How to open an anonymous directory
At least between 2016 and the case's revelation, this Chrome message was a lie (Image: Reproduction/Tecnoblog)

The value of the agreement will be revealed in February

The final amount of the fine that Google will have to pay to the authors of the case will be revealed on February 24, when the court in charge of the case approves the agreement between the two parties, bringing an end to a TV series that began in 2020 – and that had a premiere in 2022.

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Google has not officially commented on the issue yet, and it is not in any company's interest to disclose these values ​​on its own. To paraphrase a great comedic phrase, “wait for the process to finish” to see how much Google will have to pay affected users.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs accused Google of violating federal wiretap law (which includes tracking on other devices) and California privacy law. At the agreement approval session, more details about which users are eligible to receive it will also be provided.

With information: Washington Post, Ars Technica, Reuters that it Engadget