Google is looking down the barrel of a $5 billion lawsuit over claims that the tech firm collected user data even when Incognito Mode was used.
As initially reported by Reuters, a complaint has been lodged at the federal court in San Jose, California, citing the tracking of users even when the supposed private browsing mode is used. As many of you will be aware, Google collects information via Google Analytics , Google Ad Manager, and various other applications and services, whether or not Google-served ads are interactive or, indeed, clicked.
The original lawsuit file claims that even if Incognito Mode (or Private Mode) is used, sensitive data, shopping habits and more personal information about the user is learned. Google “can not continue to engage in the covert and unauthorized collection of data from virtually every American with a computer or phone,” said the grievance.
Of course, many out there occasionally wrongly view Incognito Mode or private browsing as a way to stay away from prying eyes, but this is often not the case. Browsing information could potentially be used to identify user behavior simply as “footprint” traffic matches previous habits. The rise in paid VPN services is a testament to the security concerns that many around the globe have — although the VPN service is by no means foolproof or “100%” secure.
With that in mind, the original complaint stated that the Incognito Mode lawsuit would potentially involve “millions” of Google users who have been browsing the web since June 1, 2016, using Google’s “private” mode. The claimant is seeking at least $5,000 in damages per user for violations of federal wiretapping and California privacy laws.
You may remember that this follows a pattern similar to the suit launched in Arizona through Android data tracking. The suit claims that Google has kept tracking location data running in the background for features such as weather tracking and Chrome web searches, even though users may have disabled any app-specific tracking.