Most of the Internet users presume that when they use private mode on Google or the ‘Incognito mode’ their search history is not being tracked, but surprisingly Google says that is not the case. Since June 1st, 2016, millions of users have been using the ‘private mode’ for browsing the internet on Google- world’s most popular web browser is being sued $5 Billion for breaching the privacy of its millions of users and violating US federal and state privacy laws by tracking their internet use even when the browsers were on ‘private mode’ without the knowledge or consent of the users.
Incognito mode within Google chrome allows the user to surf the internet privately without their activities being saved on the browser or on the device but the websites visited can use tools such as Google Analytics or Google Ad manager for tracking the usage. The Lawsuit was filed in the federal court in San Jose, California by the law firm, Boies Schiller Flexner and the plaintiffs are Chasom Brown, Maria Nguyen, and William Byatt.
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“Google tracks and collects consumer browsing data and other web activities no matter what safeguards are undertaken by the consumers to protect their privacy” read the Lawsuit.
Google uses this data to learn about private browsing habits of its users ranging from seemingly innocuous data which can be used for Ad-targeting, such as information about taste and preferences, interests, the favorite food of the user, etc. The collection of such data can lead to the web giants learning about people’s ‘intimate and personal’ things that they search online about which they are potentially embarrassed.
Google stated in the New York Times that the allegations have no basis and that it will rightfully defend the charges also adding that they have clearly stated that each time an Incognito tab is opened, websites might be able to collect information about the user’s browsing activity.
“ We completely condemn the allegations against us and will strongly defend ourselves against them,”
said a Google spokesperson. Ironically the problem which has put Google into legal hot water is nearly the same as the one the company accused its rival Apple of having earlier this year in its Safari browser.
While the case hearing continues, the famous browser is making significant changes by blocking resource-heavy, ads the aim of which is to change how ads are looked at over time by people.