Search Giant Google sued for tracking user behavior in Incognito mode

“Millions” of Google users who have been using Google Chrome's 'Incognito Mode' since June 1, 2016, could be involved.

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Global internet search giant Google has been sued in a proposed class action accusing the firm of illegally penetrating the secrecy of millions of users by extensively following their internet use through browsers set in “private” mode.

The prosecution seeks at least $5 billion, blaming the Alphabet Inc subset of secretly gathering information about what people see online and where they browse irrespective of them utilizing Google Chrome’s ‘Incognito mode’.

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

This assists Google to discover users’ friends, hobbies, favorite foods, shopping habits, and even the “most intimate and potentially embarrassing things” they search for online. Google “cannot continue to engage in the covert and unauthorized data collection from virtually every American with a computer or phone,” the grievance stated.

Google spokesman, Jose Castaneda, said the firm will protect itself resolutely against the allegations. “As we clearly state each time you open a new incognito tab, websites might be able to collect information about your browsing activity,” he answered.

While internet users may consider private browsing as a secure avenue from watchful eyes, computer security researchers have long fostered concerns that Google and rivals might replicate user profiles by tracking people’s personalities across various browsing modes, consolidating data from private and ordinary internet surfing.

The accusation said the proposed class likely involves “millions” of Google users who since June 1, 2016, accessed the internet in “private” mode. It seeks a minimum of $5,000 for losses per user for breaches of federal wiretapping and California privacy laws.

Case specifics: 

Brown et al v Google LLC et al, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 20-03664.


Chasom Brown, Maria Nguyen and William Byatt. represented by Boies Schiller & Flexner.