Snooping Alert! Google faces $5 billion lawsuit in US for collecting user data in ‘Incognito mode’

Google faces a $5 billion class-action lawsuit in the US which alleges that users are being tracked during their private browsing sessions.

With so much talk about privacy today, most of us blindly trust Incognito mode while using Google Chrome as we assume it to be that magical and special where we believe that the usage of this mode will not let our browser record our activities on our device. Private browsing nowadays is basically considered a blessing by the users as they believe that their browsing activities will always be a secret which no one can access to. But what if you come to know that Google is trying to snoop your ‘Incognito’ browsing?

Recently, Google and its parent company Alphabet are at the forefront of a $5 billion class-action lawsuit in the US which alleges that users are being tracked during their private browsing sessions. The complaint has been filed by three Google users in June last year, alleging that the tech giant is carrying out a “pervasive data tracking business” and its tracking persists even if users take steps to protect their private information, such as by using incognito mode in Chrome.

According to the complaint filed in the federal court in California, Google has been accused of gathering data through Google Analytics, Google Ad Manager and other applications and website plug-ins, including smartphone apps. It is also claimed that the browser is capable of collecting information even if the user clicks on Google-supported ads.

The complaint was originally filed in June 2020 and alleges that Google Chrome still allows websites to collect personal information of users when they browse any query. The complaint said:

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 favourite vacation destinations are, what your favourite colour 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’.

Google denied the allegations:

These allegations have been denied by Google. One of the company’s spokesperson said, “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 in your browser or device. It has been clearly stated that each time a user opens a new incognito tab, websites might be able to collect information about his/her browsing activity during the session.”

Google even issued a clarification stating that the incognito mode is not a synonym of invisible and therefore, there should be no confusion regarding this. Google also stated that the user’s activity during the session may be visible to websites they visit, or any third-party analytics or ad services visited during the use of a particular website.

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