Google unable to convince court that it doesn’t track users even in ‘Incognito Mode’, but claims there’s no invisibility ever

Google Chrome Incognito Mode
Incognito does not mean Invisible. Pic credit: Firmbee/Pixabay

Google has failed to get a class action lawsuit dismissed in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California. The consumers who filed the case, claim the search giant collects user data under all circumstances, including the Incognito Mode.

Google Chrome web browser harvests a lot of information about users even if they browse while using the Incognito Mode. These users are under the false impression that the Incognito Mode will keep their search activity private, claims the law suit.

Federal Judge denies Alphabet Inc. unit’s initial request to throw out the Class Action Lawsuit:

It is no secret that Google and its parent company Alphabet Inc. thrive on user data. These internet tech giants, including Facebook, harvest unimaginable amounts of data across the internet.

Google has designed its browser to collect user data no matter the circumstances, alleges a Class Action lawsuit. The company has reportedly failed to get the case dismissed that was built around this premise.

Consumers who first filed the case allege Google harvests user data even if they browse in “Incognito”. Simply put, users hoping to keep their search activity private are under a false impression that Google cannot access their browsing data if they use Incognito Mode.

Three Google users, who filed a complaint, claim the company carries on a “pervasive data tracking business”. The complaint alleges Google collects browsing history and other web activity data even after users employ safeguards to protect their data such as using “Incognito” private browsing mode.

The complaint reads: “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 favorite vacation destinations are, what your favorite color 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,’”

While denying the possibility of dismissing the case, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, wrote in her ruling: “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”.

Google Chrome web browser’s ‘Incognito Mode’ is not a cloak of invisibility:

Google has argued that the Incognito Mode in the Google Chrome web browser does not make the user invisible. In a court filing, Google explained: “Google also makes clear that ‘Incognito’ does not mean ‘invisible,’ and that the user’s activity during that session may be visible to websites they visit, and any third-party analytics or ads services the visited websites use.”

What Google has attempted to explain is a fact that few internet users realize. Using Incognito Mode does not shield users or their data from internet-based services. The mode merely doesn’t locally save the data that users generate while browsing the internet.

For example, if a person visits a website while using the Incognito Mode, the browser won’t save its history on the device. However, this does not mean that the service providers, a search company that the user used, the browser, etc. will be explicitly unaware of the information.

Google claims the plaintiffs consented to its privacy policy. The company further noted that the privacy policy explicitly discloses its data collection practices.

The search giant hasn’t yet responded or commented on the denial from the Judge. Hence, it is not clear how Google will proceed.

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