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USA: Google faces a $5 billion lawsuit for tracking users browsing Chrome in incognito mode

The lawsuit alleged that the company used different systems, including Google Analytics, Google Ad Manager, website plug-ins and other applications, including the mobile apps, to track users. It seeks at least $5 billion in compensation from Google and its parent company Alphabet.

The tech giant Google may have to pay a fine worth $5 billion as it faces a class-action lawsuit in the United States. As per the reports, the lawsuit states that the company has been tracking and collecting information on people using the private ‘Incognito Mode’ on Google’s Chrome browser.

The lawsuit alleged that the company used different systems, including Google Analytics, Google Ad Manager, website plug-ins and other applications, including the mobile apps, to track users. It seeks at least $5 billion in compensation from Google and its parent company Alphabet.

As per the reports, US District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, said that Google failed to notify users that the company allegedly collects data while users are browsing in private mode.

Google spokesperson Jose Castaneda said in a statement that the company strongly dispute the claims and it will defend vigorously against them. He further added, “Incognito mode in Chrome gives you a 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.”

The case was filed in June 2020

In June 2020, three Google users had filed a complaint and claimed that the company carries on a “pervasive data tracking business.” They said that Google collects browsing history and other web activity data even if it has switched on the “incognito” mode.

“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 favourite vacation destinations are, what your favourite colour 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,’” the complainant added.

On the other hand, Google said that it has explicitly disclosed the data collection practices in its privacy policy. In its court filing, Google said, “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.”

Does Google collect data in Incognito mode?

Though Google provides a private browsing mode on Chrome called “Incognito Mode”, where online activities like browsing history, cache, passwords are not tracked, the company mentions explicitly in the Privacy Policy that it will track some online behaviour of the user. Google, in its statement, said, “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.”

Third-party cookies will be removed soon

Apple Safari and Mozilla Firefox have already removed the third-party cookies from their browsers to provide a better user experience. Google also announced last year that it would soon remove the support for third-party cookies from Chrome. These cookies allow advertisers to track users’ movement between various websites, making it easier to show targeted ads.

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Staff reporter at OpIndia

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