Google, the internet search giant owned by Alphabet, has agreed to settle a $5 billion consumer-privacy lawsuit. The lawsuit alleged that Google tracked the internet use of millions of people who believed they were browsing privately. A federal judge in California has put a scheduled February trial on hold following a preliminary agreement. This settlement is the second one reached by Alphabet this month, with the company agreeing to pay $700 million and make changes to its app store to settle an antitrust lawsuit.
Google also faced an antitrust court battle against Epic Games, where a California federal jury concluded that the company maintains a monopoly in its app store's distribution and payments market. However, Google plans to challenge the verdict.
Meanwhile, a decision is expected early next year in the Justice Department's high-profile antitrust case against Google over its search engine.
Although the details of the consumer-privacy lawsuit settlement are yet to be disclosed, it is anticipated that Google will have paid less than the $5 billion-plus bill it would have faced if it had lost the case.
The class-action lawsuit claimed that Google tracked users' activity and data even when using Google Chrome's 'Incognito' mode, which is intended to protect privacy. According to the plaintiffs, this monitoring turned Google into an "unaccountable trove of information" by allowing the company to gather details about users' friends, hobbies, shopping habits, and potentially embarrassing things.
Google denied any wrongdoing but failed to have the lawsuit dismissed in August. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Lawyers from both sides are expected to submit the final agreement for court approval by Feb. 24.
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