Google facing lawsuit over tracking people using Incognito mode

  • 15/03/2021
Google facing lawsuit over tracking people using Incognito mode.
Photo credit: Google

A US judge has ruled a lawsuit accusing Google of "secretly monitoring" web browsing in Chrome's Incognito mode can go ahead.

The tech giant had asked for the lawsuit to be dismissed, arguing that it hasn't hidden how Incognito mode works from users.

However, US District Judge Lucy Koh wrote in her ruling that the company "did not notify users that Google engages in the alleged data collection while the user is in private browsing mode".

The class-action lawsuit seeks at least US$5 billion.

It was filed in June last year by three plaintiffs who claim Google tracked what they were doing in Chrome's Incognito mode without their consent.

"Secret monitoring of web private browsing is highly offensive behaviour," the plaintiffs say in the lawsuit.

"Google tracks and collects consumer browsing history and other web activity data no matter what safeguards consumers undertake to protect their data privacy."

But Google's lawyers wrote that the company "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".

Following the ruling the lawsuit can proceed, Google released a statement saying it "strongly disputes" the allegations and will "defend ourselves vigorously against them".

"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."