Alphabet Inc.’s Google on Tuesday was sued with a proposed class-action suit for violating the privacy of millions of its users by monitoring their internet use from browsers set in “incognito/private” browsing mode. The lawsuit was filed against the tech giant in San Jose, California, and accused the search engine behemoth of “covert and unauthorized data collection from virtually every American with a computer or phone.”
Secretly collecting information of users?
The lawsuit seeks at least $5 billion from the Alphabet Inc., the parent company of Google, for secretly collecting information about what people view online and what they browse, even if they use what Google calls “incognito” mode.
The law firm Boies Schiller Flexner has filed the class action suit. “People everywhere are becoming more aware and concerned that their personal communications are being intercepted, collected, recorded, or exploited for gain by technology companies they have come to depend on,” the law firm stated in their filing.
The complaint filed against Google states that the organisation collects information from a host of other applications such as Google Analytics, Google Ad Manager, web-site plug-ins and smartphone apps whether they click on Google-supported ads or not. The litigant mentioned that such surreptitious activities by Google help the organisation in learning about the users’ friends, hobbies, interests, food habits and even the “most intimate and potentially embarrassing things” they surf online.
“Billions of times a day, Google causes computers around the world to report the real-time internet communications of hundreds of millions of people to Google,” the complaint read.
Covert methods to gather unauthorised data
The complaint stated that Google cannot continue employing covert methods to gather unauthorised data from every unsuspecting American with a computer or phone. Google spokesperson, Jose Castaneda, said that the organisation will vigorously defend itself against the allegations made against it.
“We explicitly state every time you open an incognito mode that the websites might be able to draw details of your browsing activity,” he added.
While the users may believe that the incognito mode shields them prying online eyes, computer security analysts have long asserted that Google and other rival organisations might extract information from multiple browsing modes used by the users for creating augmented user profiles based on the inputs gleaned from tracking their activities.
The proposed class-action suit reportedly includes millions of users and seeks $5000 as damages per user or three times actual damages, whichever is greater.