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Google reaches deal to avoid $5 billion lawsuit

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Apr18,2024

Google reaches deal to avoid $5 billion lawsuit

Sébastien Bozon/AFP For the plaintiffs' lawyers, the tech giant has built up a wealth of information “escaping all control, so detailed and so vast that George Orwell would never have could imagine it”.

TECH –Currently targeted by numerous legal proceedings, Google reached an amicable agreement last week to end a class action in the United States. The Mountain View firm hopes to escape a lawsuit filed against it over the  private browsing mode of his Internet browser, Chrome, which could cost him 5 billion dollars in damages. Plaintiffs' lawyers say the tech giant's practices violated users' privacy by “intentionally” deceiving them and obtaining “intimate details” about their lives, interests and web usage. . The agreement, the amount of which has not been revealed, must still be validated by a court by the end of February 2024.

The case dates back to 2020, when three Americans accused the Alphabet group subsidiary of collecting the information of millions of Google Chrome users, supposed to protect browsing and which is generally used for sensitive or very personal searches. The facts alleged by the plaintiffs against the search engine span a period of four years (from 2016) during which Google allegedly tracked Internet users to learn about their activities and use them to sell online advertising. /p>

Private browsing not at all incognito

The class action was filed in a court in the Northern District of California. The American firm first tried to have the legal action dismissed and then defended itself by emphasizing that it had informed its users that their data remained visible, including during private browsing. The plaintiffs' lawyers claimed that each of them was tracked by visiting the Google Analytics and Ad Manager platforms in “private browsing” mode, without being logged into their Google account.

These practices, they continue, violated the privacy of users, who were “intentionally” deceived. They also gave Google the “power to obtain intimate details” about their lives, interests and internet usage. The tech giant, they say, has amassed a wealth of information “out of control, so detailed and vast that George Orwell could never have imagined.”

For the judge in charge of the case, it is mainly a question of knowing whether or not the publisher of Chrome has made a legally binding commitment not to collect data during private browsing.

Google risked a lawsuit far too expensive (expected) on February 5, 2024, since, according to the Washington Post, the original complaint provided for compensation of $100 to $1,000 per plaintiff. Reuters, for its part, cited an amount of $5,000 per user, claimed by the plaintiffs' lawyers for violating federal wiretapping laws and California privacy laws. A very expensive outcome that the giant cannot afford, which is already accused of unfair competition and monopoly, and which has been fined 8 billion euros by Brussels.

Google does not specify, in the document sent to the magistrates in charge of the case, the amount on which the two parties agreed. This is a preliminary agreement dated December 28, 2023 which must still be validated by a court before February 24, 2024. But the total amount probably does not exceed the 5 billion dollars in damages that the group risked. to pay…

Trials galore

On September 12, a trial for abuse of dominant position opened against Google in the United States. The Internet giant is accused of forcing phone and tablet makers, as well as web browsers, to install its search engine by default to eliminate other competitors.

In June 2023, the European Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager, spoke during a press conference of the opening of an investigation against Google for another abuse of a dominant position, this time in the online advertising market. The Commission suspects Google of “favoring its own online display advertising technology services to the detriment of competing ad technology service providers, advertisers and online publishers”.

The Court of in 2018, the EU imposed a record fine of 4.1 billion euros on him; for abuse of dominant position of its Android operating system, a fine of 1.49 billion euros in 2019 and 2.4 billion for competitive practice.

A France-Soir, we are still fighting to have recognized, among other things, an abuse of a dominant position through the deindexing of our articles in Google News since February 2021.

On September 6, 2022, the commercial court of Paris has admitted Google's dominant position in the Internet search market. However, the judges did not find any abuse of this position, considering instead that France-Soir had violated the rules of Google News, in particular by contradicting “scientific or medical consensus” as well as “ good practices in evidence-based medicine…”.  France-Soirappealed this decision.


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Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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