Google Facing Lawsuit Over Incognito Mode Tracking

Google Facing Lawsuit Over Incognito Mode Tracking

Google faces a $5 billion lawsuit as users claim that they are being tracked while browsing in the incognito mode.

Google Facing Lawsuit Over Incognito Mode Tracking: Google is facing a $5 billion lawsuit due to the allegations that users are being tracked while browsing using the Chrome’s private session mode, a.k.a. incognito.

US District Judge Lucy Koh (San Jose, CA) ordered that the lawsuit that has been filed in June 2020 must go forward as the court concluded that Google did not notify users about the alleged data collection in private browsing mode.

“The court concludes that Google did not notify users that Google engages in the alleged data collection while the user is in private browsing mode.”

US District Judge Lucy Koh

Chrome users who filed the suit alleges that they get the impression that Incognito mode offers full privacy, i.e., no user data are collected by any third parties and their browsing history is not stored anywhere. However, disputing the claims, Google states that incognito mode only offers browsing the Internet without no user activity being saved to the user’s browser or the device. In their defense statement, Google also states that websites can collect information about users activity in the private session and this is made clear in the privacy policy.

“We strongly dispute these claims and we will defend ourselves vigorously against them. Incognito mode in Chrome gives you the choice to browse the internet without your activity being saved to your browser or device. As we clearly state each time you open a new incognito tab, websites might be able to collect information about your browsing activity during your session.”
                                                                                                                           Jose Castaneda - Google Spokesperson

Currently, Google Chrome (Version 89.0.4389.90) notifies users with a privacy statement depicted below.

Google Chrome Incognito Notification

From the above notification it can be concluded clearly that users’ data can be collected by the websites visited. However, it is not clear whether Google also collect any user data or not. Moreover, both the image of the incognito mode and the name itself could lead the users to think the privacy provided by this feature is far beyond that browsing history and cookies are not stored locally on the browser.

Currently no verdict has been made regarding the lawsuit and it could take months or years to reach a final verdict on the case since it seems to be a highly disputed one. In the meantime, users should be aware that incognito mode is a handy feature that does not store users’ browsing history and the cookies on their local machine and may not provide a real privacy protection against any third parties.

Quote by Clay Shirky
Quote by Clay Shirky

It used to be expensive to make things public and cheap to make them private. Now it’s expensive to make things private and cheap to make them public.

Clay Shirky

Read more educational and inspirational cyber quotes at our page 100+ Best Cyber Security & Hacker Quotes.

To learn more about anonymous browsing, you could also read our article What is TOR? or How to Use TOR Safely?