Google to face lawsuit over snooping in "incognito" mode2021-03-15 18:48 by Daniela
Google must face claims that it violates federal and California state privacy laws by collecting data about Chrome users who browse the web in "incognito" mode, a federal judge ruled Friday. The lawsuit, originally filed in June 2020, claims that Google tracks and collects consumer browsing history, among other activities, even when Chrome's Incognito or other privacy-based browser sessions are in use.
"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.
The complaint alleges that Google still tracks users in private browsing mode using Google Analytics, Google Ad Manager, the Google app on mobile devices, and the Google sign-in button for websites.
Google Analytics and Ad Manager are common traffic and ad tools for websites that provide information about their visitors, such as their demographic data and the frequency with which they visit the site, and help them manage their ad campaigns. In fact, the suit alleges that more than 70% of websites use Google Analytics.
"We strongly dispute these claims and we will defend ourselves vigorously against them," Google spokesperson Jose Castaneda said in a statement. "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."
Incognito mode, a.k.a. safe browsing a.k.a. private browsing, has become a standard feature among web browsers that advertise some protection against tracking your activities on the Web. At its most basic, the feature means that the browser itself doesn't save your browsing history, cookies, or data you enter. In other words, the browser itself won't track you but it's what Chrome allows others to do that has gotten Google into trouble.
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