Google no less often than Apple becomes a defendant in all sorts of scandals and proceedings. It seems that less than a month goes by without the search giant being sued for some kind of violation. In most cases, the claims are justified, because from time to time the company is forgotten and goes beyond the law, conducting its activities without regard for the interests of others. Another thing is that sometimes the punishments that shine on Google for committed violations turn out to be prohibitively high, risking severely undermining the company's financial position.
Google made money by tracking users. Now users themselves apply for this money
According to Reuters, a lawsuit was filed against Google in federal court for the city of San Jose, California, demanding that the company be found guilty of illegally collecting data from users of the Google Chrome browser. An important aspect of the case is the fact of secret collection of information in incognito mode, which the users themselves did not even suspect. Not only did Google not warn about this, it also undermined the value of incognito mode, which is that all actions in this mode are not subject to capture, since it disables cookies and other tracking tools on sites.
Is it possible to track in incognito mode
Chrome is probably the only browser where incognito mode was fake
However, Google made it so that sites could continue to track users even in incognito mode, identifying them unmistakably. This was clearly seen in the example of online publications that work by subscription, but provide readers with a certain number of articles for free reading. Due to the fact that Chrome did not block cookies in incognito mode, publications could still calculate readers who had already reached the limit of available articles. In a similar way, specific individuals were identified on other sites.
According to the plaintiff, in this way Google sought to increase its advertising revenues, since the company is one of the world's largest advertising platforms. And tracking users who were looking to get out of hand allowed her to more effectively learn about their habits and addictions, despite breaches of privacy. Subsequently, when experts tested Chrome and found out that the browser did allow surveillance, Google turned off the corresponding mechanisms, but this was completely unlike active remorse.
Who will receive money from Google
Therefore, the plaintiff demands the court to recover $ 5 billion from Google and distribute it among the victims. The lawyers in charge of the case estimate that each Chrome user will receive approximately $ 5,000. Such a large compensation is due to the fact that in the United States, each state is a kind of separate state, and the decisions of their courts are applied only on its territory. So it turns out that in California there were about a million people using Chrome and affected by Google's policies.
Affected users receive up to $ 5,000 in compensation
However, Google itself was clearly afraid of the possible consequences that the desire to follow users would turn into for it. Therefore, at some point, the company's developers began to urgently test all kinds of restraints for third-party surveillance. This includes blocking cookies, and blocking ads, and blocking cross-site tracking, which has been in many modern browsers for a long time. However, whether this will help Google avoid a fine is a big question, given the public outcry and the responsible attitude of users to their own safety.
But it is difficult to say whether Google will recover the 5 billion requested by the plaintiff. After all, the United States is not the European Union, which has fined the search giant $ 5 billion for imposing Google Mobile Services on smartphone manufacturers. It is possible that the American court will reduce the amount of compensation payments to more sane limits, taking into account the fact that the violation by Google did not cause physical or material harm to users. However, there is absolutely no reason to doubt that the company will really be punished.