A California judge has rejected Google’s bid to dismiss a lawsuit alleging it illegally collected data from users browsing in Incognito mode. The suit claims Google violated privacy expectations by tracking browsing activity despite Incognito being enabled.
Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled that based on Google’s own Incognito descriptions, a triable issue exists over whether there was an enforceable privacy promise made to users.
Statements Imply Limited Data Collection
She also noted plaintiffs’ evidence that Google stores Incognito and regular browsing data together, and the aggregated data can uniquely identify users.
Alleged Harm From Surreptitious Data Collection
Addressing Google’s economic injury claims, the judge found plaintiffs sufficiently showed a data market exists, and Google’s alleged undisclosed collection denied them opportunities.
She further stated monetary damages alone cannot adequately remedy Google’s ongoing data collection practices, making injunctive relief necessary.
Case Moves Closer to Trial or Settlement
The 2020 class action lawsuit seeks at least $5 billion in damages from Google over the Incognito complaints.
While not entirely surprising per recent indications, the ruling represents a major blow to Google’s attempt at an early dismissal. It substantially increases pressure to settle or proceed to trial.
The decision keeps a critical spotlight on Google’s data practices. As tech user privacy expectations grow, the case underscores the risks of ambiguous policies that fail to disclose the full extent of background data gathering.