March 17, 2021: A federal judge in California told Google on Friday that the company must face a lawsuit over tracking users’ activities in Chrome’s incognito mode. Reportedly, Google uses other tracking tools for data tracking in incognito mode to keep tabs on what websites the user visits.
Google’s data tracking in incognito mode
After three users dragged Google to court in the US for tracking users even in incognito mode, Google wanted the case to be trashed.
The reason was simple: Google believed that people already knew the real meaning of “Incognito”. The $5 billion lawsuit charges Google of “pervasive data tracking business”.
They said that after you turn off data tracking in the browser, other Google tools used by websites pass on your personal information to the company. The petitioners also alleged that the firm engages in a “pervasive data tracking business.”
What the lawsuit alleged?
The lawsuit alleged that Google uses different systems, including Google Analytics, Google Ad Manager, website plug-ins, and other applications, including the mobile apps, to track users, according to CNET.
“Google knows who your friends are, what your hobbies are, what you like to eat, what movies you watch, where and when you like to shop, what your favorite vacation destinations are, what your favorite color is, and even the most intimate and potentially embarrassing things you browse on the internet regardless of whether you follow Google’s advice to keep your activities ‘private’,” the complaint notes.
“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 in San Jose, California, wrote in her ruling as cited by reports. Google is denying this claim and the company in a statement to The Verge informed that “it will defend ourselves vigorously against them (the claims).”
Data tracking in incognito mode: What Google has to say?
Google has however disputed the claims noting that it informs users beforehand about the tracking activity that may take place in incognito mode and that being incognito does not mean being invisible.
The tech giant in its court ruling also noted that the user’s activity during that session may be visible to websites they visit, and any third-party analytics or ads services the visited websites use.
“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,” Google spokesperson Jose Castaneda noted in a statement to Bloomberg.
Earlier this month, Google said that it will phase out the third-party cookies and once that is done, it will not replace the cookies with any other tracking tech. The Chrome browser will prohibit the cookies from collecting that information. However, the change is only applicable on the web version of Chrome, Google will continue tracking users on the mobile version of the Chrome browser.