Google is being sued for tracking users in Incognito Mode
Incognito Mode is a feature most of us take for granted by now. All current browsers have at least some iteration of it: a mode where browsing history and cookies are not saved. Many people wrongly assume that Incognito Mode makes you completely anonymous online. That is, in fact, not true, and Chrome even warns you of that when starting a session. However, some argue that Google is still collecting some data, and now the company is facing a $5 billion lawsuit for this.
The initial report by Reuters describes that a complaint has been filed at a federal court in San Jose, California. The reason? Google is alleged to still pick up some of your personal information, such as shopping habits and other sensitive data, even when you’re browsing in incognito mode. How do they allegedly do it? Through services such as Google Ad Manager, Google Analytics, etc. This collected information is not directly tied to the user, but it could potentially be used to identify a user if the information matches previous search habits.
Google does note that your activity might still be visible to websites and your Internet provider, but this seems to not fit that description, hence the lawsuit. The claimant is looking for at least $5,000 of damages per user for charges of federal wiretapping and violations of California privacy laws. The full $5 billion lawsuit would then cover “millions” of users who have browsed the web since June 1st, 2016. Google might then be facing down a pretty grim path if the lawsuit actually goes through. This is not the first time Google has been under fire for its privacy practices, and it will also probably not be the last one.