Many use the incognito mode of the Google Chrome browser to be anonymous on the Internet. But even then, Google could track user activity – at least three plaintiffs in the US claim that.
Last June, a class action lawsuit was filed in the United States for alleged data breaches in the Google Chrome browser’s incognito mode. The content of the lawsuit is that Google also tracks and saves surfing behavior when you are in private browser mode like Chromes Incognito.
Claims for damages in the billions
Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company, tried to have the lawsuit dismissed, as reported by Bloomberg . Last Friday, however, a federal judge rejected the application. Now the company is faced with claims for damages amounting to 5 billion US dollars (4.2 billion euros).
The judge Lucy Koh justified the decision by saying that Google had not informed that it “carried out the alleged data collection while the user is in private browser mode.”
Google’s incognito mode doesn’t make people “invisible”
The three plaintiffs accuse Google of using tools such as Google Analytics, Google Ad Manager, plug-ins, mobile apps and others to trac search behavior in private browser sessions.
Many assume that the incognito mode in Google Chrome makes them anonymous on the web. However, this is not the case. The aim of the function is not to save user activity locally. Accordingly, Chrome does not save any information about search history, cookies, page data and completed forms in an incognito session.
According to Bloomberg, Google stated in a court file that “‘incognito’ does not mean ‘invisible'”. Furthermore, “the user activity within the session can be visible to the websites that are visited, and any third-party analysis tool or advertising services that use the websites visited.”
In fact, at the start of an incognito session, Chrome explicitly warns that the activity will still be visible to websites, employers and internet providers visited. This warning will be seen on any device that has Google Chrome available before an incognito session begins. The company therefore expressly rejects the allegations in the lawsuit.
Google Chrome is the most widely used browser in the world with a market share of more than 66 percent. Tech giants like Google, Facebook and Apple are faced with ever stricter data protection regulations. For this reason, Google, for example, recently announced that it would completely dispense with tracking cookies in Chrome .