Private No More? Google Says Goodbye to Billions of Private Browsing Records

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In a recent turn of events, Google has decided to delete a massive amount of data collected from users who thought they were browsing the internet privately using Chrome’s Incognito Mode. This decision is part of an agreement to settle a lawsuit from 2020, where Google was accused of tracking users’ private browsing without their consent.

What Was the Issue?

The problem started when people using Chrome’s Incognito Mode discovered that Google was still keeping track of what they were doing online, even though they thought they were browsing privately. This led to a lawsuit against Google, claiming that the company was misleading its users.

Google’s Response

To settle this lawsuit, Google has agreed to delete billions of records of users’ browsing data. This includes information that could identify users, like their internet addresses (IP addresses) and details about their devices. Google will also remove certain technical data that could potentially identify users based on their browser settings.

Furthermore, Google has decided to block third-party cookies in Incognito Mode for the next five years. This means that other companies won’t be able to track users’ activities in Incognito Mode through cookies, which are small data files used for tracking. Google also plans to get rid of these tracking cookies altogether by the end of this year.

What Does This Mean for Users?

Google has updated the information for Incognito Mode to make it clear that turning it on does not stop websites and their services, including Google, from collecting data on where users go and what they do online. The lawsuit revealed that some Google employees were worried about how Incognito Mode was explained to users, calling it misleading.

Google’s Broader Efforts to Enhance Security

In addition to these changes, Google is taking steps to reduce spam and phishing attacks through Gmail. They’re enforcing new rules for people who send out a lot of emails, requiring them to make it easy for recipients to unsubscribe and to process these requests quickly.

The Big Picture

This situation shines a light on the importance of digital privacy and the responsibility of big tech companies to be transparent about how they collect and use data. While Google’s decision to delete user data and make these changes is a step in the right direction for privacy, it also raises questions about how much users can trust the privacy modes and settings offered by their browsers.

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