Judge Rules Google Must Face Lawsuit Alleging Chrome Tracks Users in Incognito Mode

Google Chrome Material Icon 450x450A judge in California has ruled that Google must face a class action lawsuit alleging that it secretly tracks the online activity of Chrome users even when they're using the browser in its privacy-oriented Incognito mode (via Bloomberg).

The lawsuit was filed in June by three plaintiffs alleging that Google hoovers up user 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.

The plaintiffs claim that Google is therefore deceiving customers into believing that they have control over the information they share with the company when they use Chrome's private browsing mode, and in doing so, violates federal wiretap laws.

According to the plaintiffs, 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.

Google attempted to have the case thrown out by arguing that the plaintiffs consented to its privacy policy, which the company said explicitly discloses its data protection practices.

"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," Google said in a court filing.

However, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh ruled that the company "did not notify users that Google engages in the alleged data collection while the user is in private browsing mode."

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

Top Rated Comments

Apple Knowledge Navigator Avatar
16 months ago
Google’s definition of ‘incognito’: Dark Mode
Score: 64 Votes (Like | Disagree)
topgunn Avatar
16 months ago
"If you are not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold."
Score: 52 Votes (Like | Disagree)
madquack Avatar
16 months ago
Firefox is the way to go! ??
Score: 31 Votes (Like | Disagree)
LeeW Avatar
16 months ago
Don't think Google has anything to worry about here. More about peoples inability to understand how incognito mode actually works.
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
SBlue1 Avatar
16 months ago
What did the guy think, incognito meant he was invisible to websites and tracking??? LOL!
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
LV426 Avatar
16 months ago
The Great White Shark in Jaws also "defended itself vigorously" when under attack.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

google iphone home screen

Google Basically Wants Your iPhone 13 Home Screen to Look Like Android

Tuesday September 28, 2021 5:59 am PDT by
In a new blog post titled "Bring the best of Google to your iPhone," Google is on an endeavor to convince new iPhone 13 users to transform their ‌device’s home screen to look like Android. The blog post, written by Google's director for the iOS platform, features screenshots of an iPhone 13 home screen filled with Google apps and widgets. The post implies that customers should possibly...
apple privacy

More Users Trust Amazon and Google to Handle Their Personal User Data Than Apple, Survey Suggests

Wednesday December 22, 2021 7:29 am PST by
According to a new survey, more users trust Amazon and Google to handle their personal user data and internet browsing activity than Apple, while users overwhelmingly distrust Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram. The survey conducted by The Washington Post sampled over 1,000 internet users in the U.S. about how much they trust Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, WhatsApp, YouTube, Google, Microsoft,...
google android ios like features feature

Google's 2022 Product Roadmap Includes Apple-Style Integration Across Devices

Wednesday January 5, 2022 11:35 am PST by
Google today announced its 2022 product plans for the Android operating system, and several of the upcoming additions clearly mirror existing Apple features. The new functionality will allow Android smartphones and Google products to match capabilities already available with the Apple devices. Fast Pair, a Google feature that enables Bluetooth accessories to instantly pair to an Android...
tim cook mark zuckerberg

Apple's Privacy Measures to Cost Facebook $10 Billion in 2022

Thursday February 3, 2022 12:30 am PST by
Facebook has said measures being taken by Apple on iOS that make it harder for platforms and apps to track users across other apps and websites will cost its business $10 billion in 2022. Facebook yesterday reported $33.67 billion in revenue, and while higher than expected, earnings per share were shy of analyst expectations. Facebook, renamed to Meta, also offered lower guidance for the...
play store google

Multiple U.S. States Sue Google for Violating Antitrust Laws With Play Store Fees

Wednesday July 7, 2021 4:01 pm PDT by
Attorneys general representing 36 U.S. states and Washington, D.C. today levied an antitrust lawsuit [PDF] against Google to challenge Google Play Store fees, reports Politico. The lawsuit was filed in California federal court and is led by Utah, North Carolina, Tennessee, New York, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, and Nebraska. The states are fighting against Google's plan to require all app...
applegoogle

Google Basically Pays Apple to Stay Out of the Search Engine Business, Class Action Lawsuit Alleges

Wednesday January 5, 2022 3:02 am PST by
Apple has an agreement with Google that it won't develop its own internet search engine so long as Google pays it to remain the default option in Safari, a new class action alleges. Filed in a California court earlier this week against Apple, Google, and their respective CEOs, the lawsuit alleges the two companies have a non-compete agreement in the internet search business that violates US...
gmail calls

Google Rolls Out Voice and Video Call Features to Gmail App

Tuesday December 7, 2021 4:20 am PST by
Google has added the ability to join one-on-one Google Chat voice and video calls from within the Gmail app, the company has announced. Before now, it was possible to make calls from within the Gmail app on iOS and Android, but users had to send an invite to a Google Meet video conferencing call, which was more convoluted and limiting. In future, however, users will be able to tap new...
google logo

Google's 'Pixel Watch' Planned for 2022 Launch to Compete With Apple Watch

Friday December 3, 2021 6:59 am PST by
Google is planning to launch its first smartwatch next year, according to a new report from Business Insider, signaling Google's expansion into creating smartwatch hardware rather than just software. Google has so far only developed wearOS, an operating system that the company has partnered with Samsung and others to implement into smartwatch offerings. Next year, however, Google is planning ...

Popular Stories

iPhone 13 Always On Feature

iPhone 14 Pro Screen Refresh Rate Upgrade Could Allow for Always-On Display

Tuesday May 24, 2022 7:23 am PDT by
Last year's iPhone 13 Pro models were the first of Apple's smartphones to come with 120Hz ProMotion displays, and while the two iPhone 14 Pro models will continue to feature the technology, their screens could well boast expanded refresh rate variability this time round. To bring ProMotion displays to the ‌iPhone 13 Pro models‌, Apple adopted LTPO panel technology with variable refresh...
iPhone 14 Pro Purple Front and Back MacRumors Exclusive

iPhone 14 Pro Renders Highlight Multiple Design Changes

Wednesday May 25, 2022 8:56 am PDT by
Leaker Jon Prosser today shared ostensibly accurate renders of the iPhone 14 Pro, providing the most accurate look yet at what the device could look like when it launches later this year. In the latest video on YouTube channel Front Page Tech, Prosser revealed renders of the iPhone 14 Pro made by Apple concept graphic designer Ian Zelbo, highlighting a range of specific design changes...
iPhone 14 Purple Lineup Feature

Will the iPhone 14 Be a Disappointment?

Saturday May 21, 2022 9:00 am PDT by
With around four months to go before Apple is expected to unveil the iPhone 14 lineup, the overwhelming majority of rumors related to the new devices so far have focused on the iPhone 14 Pro, rather than the standard iPhone 14 – leading to questions about how different the iPhone 14 will actually be from its predecessor, the iPhone 13. The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max are expected...
iPhone 13 Face ID

'High-End' iPhone 14 Front-Facing Camera to Cost Apple Three Times More

Monday May 23, 2022 7:05 am PDT by
The iPhone 14 will feature a more expensive "high-end" front-facing camera with autofocus, partly made in South Korea for the first time, ET News reports. Apple reportedly ousted a Chinese candidate to choose LG Innotek, a South Korean company, to supply the iPhone 14's front-facing camera alongside Japan's Sharp. The company is said to have originally planned to switch to LG for the iPhone...
apple wwdc 2022

Apple Shares WWDC 2022 Schedule, Keynote to Take Place June 6 at 10:00 a.m PT

Tuesday May 24, 2022 9:06 am PDT by
Apple today confirmed that the keynote event for the Worldwide Developers Conference will begin at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time on June 6, the first day of WWDC. The keynote will be an online-only event, though a select number of developers have been invited to the Apple Park campus for a viewing event. In addition to confirming the keynote date and time, Apple has shared the full WWDC 2022...
2022 Apple Watch Pride Edition Bands

Apple Announces 2022 Pride Edition Watch Bands and Watch Face

Tuesday May 24, 2022 6:24 am PDT by
Apple today announced new Pride bands for the Apple Watch, with new Pride Edition Sport Loop and Pride Edition Nike Sport Loop options available. The new Pride Edition bands are available to order today for $49 on Apple.com and in the Apple Store app, and will be available at Apple Store locations starting May 26. The Pride Edition Nike Sport Loop is also coming soon to Nike.com. This...