Google to face $5bn lawsuit over Incognito mode tracking

15 Mar 2021409 Views

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The tech giant denies the allegations that users are tracked by Google when using the private browsing mode in Chrome.

Google must face a $5bn lawsuit over allegations that it tracks people using Incognito mode.

On Friday (12 March), a judge in California ruled that a class action lawsuit taken against the tech giant last year can proceed, Bloomberg reports.

The suit alleges that Google continues to collect data and track users when they are using Incognito mode in the Chrome browser, which promises some added protections like browsing history not being stored.

The three people behind the suit are seeking up to $5bn from Google. The company had sought to have the action thrown out, but the judge has disagreed.

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The complaint was first filed last year and claimed that tracking in Incognito browsing gives Google an understanding of a person’s likes and hobbies as well the “most intimate and potentially embarrassing things” about a person. It also claimed that Google misleads users into thinking that their browsing habits are private when in Incognito mode.

Google, in a statement, disagreed with the allegation that Incognito mode over-promises users on security and privacy. It said users are made aware that some sites will still track a user regardless of the status of the browser.

“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,” the company said.

“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.”

The class action nature of the lawsuit means that more plaintiffs could potentially join the case against Google. The tech giant is expected to rigorously defend the case and it remains to be seen if any damages will be paid out, but the case could lead to Google being forced to disclose more information to users about how Incognito mode works.

Jonathan Keane is a freelance business and technology journalist based in Dublin

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