$5 Billion Lawsuit Accuses Google of Tracking Chrome Users in Incognito Mode

Google Chrome Material Icon 450x450A proposed class action lawsuit in the U.S. has accused Google of violating federal wiretap laws by tracking the online activities of users when in Incognito mode.

According to Reuters, the class action argues that by surreptitiously collecting information about what people view online and where they browse when they use Chrome's private browsing mode, Google has been intentionally deceiving customers into believing that they have control over the information they share with the company.

According to the complaint filed in the federal court in San Jose, California, Google gathers data through Google Analytics, Google Ad Manager and other applications and website plug-ins, including smartphone apps, regardless of whether users click on Google-supported ads.

This helps Google learn about users' friends, hobbies, favorite foods, shopping habits, and even the "most intimate and potentially embarrassing things" they search for online, the complaint said.

Google "cannot continue to engage in the covert and unauthorized data collection from virtually every American with a computer or phone," the complaint said.

Google has said it will defend itself "vigorously' against the claims.

"Incognito mode in Chrome gives you the choice to browse the internet without your activity being saved to your browser or device," said Google spokesperson Jose Castaneda. "As we clearly state each time you open a new incognito tab, websites might be able to collect information about your browsing activity."

The three plaintiffs argue that the lawsuit likely covers "millions" of Google users who since June 1, 2016 browsed the internet using Incognito mode. The proposed class action therefore seeks $5,000 in damages per user for violations of federal wiretapping and California privacy laws, amounting to at least $5 billion.

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Top Rated Comments

Unggoy Murderer Avatar
52 months ago
Using a Google product and don't think that every single telemetry possible isn't being tracked? Boy oh boy, grab a seat and I'll tell you where 90% of Google's revenue comes from.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
itsmilo Avatar
52 months ago
Sounds like some tech handicapped person just doesn’t understand what incognito mode means. Next
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Kabeyun Avatar
52 months ago
Let’s see if I get this. Google made a browser mode that doesn’t save data locally but still allows sites to learn you. Meaning if you searched from Google’s web page Chrome wouldn’t phone home but the site would. Then they called it “incognito” mode. Sounds like they could win on this technicality if they disclosed as they claim. But if anyone’s surprised about this creepiness I’ve got a bridge to sell. Google’s entire model is monetizing you via targeted ads, for those living under a rock. AdWords + AdSense = something like ¾ of their staggering revenue. Expecting Google to embrace anonymity is like expecting a tiger to embrace broccoli.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
69Mustang Avatar
52 months ago

Let’s see if I get this. Google made a browser mode that doesn’t save data locally but still allows sites to learn you. Meaning if you searched from Google’s web page Chrome wouldn’t phone home but the site would. Then they called it “incognito” mode. Sounds like they could win on this technicality if they disclosed as they claim.
Here's what you see when you enter incognito mode. You tell me if you think there's disclosure.



But if anyone’s surprised about this creepiness I’ve got a bridge to sell. Google’s entire model is monetizing you via targeted ads, for those living under a rock. AdWords + AdSense = something like ¾ of their staggering revenue. Expecting Google to embrace anonymity is like expecting a tiger to embrace broccoli.
None of this editorializing has anything to do with incognito mode. People who use incognito mode should know and understand what it is and what it does. More importantly, they should understand what it does not do.

Attachment Image
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Unggoy Murderer Avatar
52 months ago

Call me, I will explain the point of the article and why you missed it.
$5b is a speeding ticket in comparison to the amount of money they'll have generated from that system. Anyone who believed that an advertising company was being honest about their privacy policies is nothing short of bonkers.

In other news, ISP's likely do the same. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
LeeW Avatar
52 months ago

Using a Google product and don't think that every single telemetry possible isn't being tracked? Boy oh boy, grab a seat and I'll tell you where 90% of Google's revenue comes from.
Call me, I will explain the point of the article and why you missed it.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)