Google set to clarify what Incognito mode does and doesn't do after being hit with lawsuit

The changes are likely in response to a US$5 billion class action lawsuit.
The changes are likely in response to a US$5 billion class action lawsuit. Photo credit: Google

Google is in the process of rolling out a redesigned Incognito mode landing page, according to reports.

The new canary build of Chrome for Android - a version that allows new features and functionality to be tested by a small number of users - shows text clarifying what exactly the mode does and doesn't do.

The changes are likely in response to a US$5 billion class action lawsuit filed against the internet giant last year.

The redesigned incognito page can be seen when the flag "Revamped Incognito New Tab Page" is enabled Chrome Canary for Android, Techdows reported.

That makes it a popular choice for those who are trying to be discreet while visiting certain types of websites likely to draw negative attention from their loved ones.

But that doesn't mean users are invisible while browsing in this mode - each site visited will know about it, as will anyone tracking internet browsing history - for example schools and businesses.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit claim they were tracked without their consent while using Chrome's Incognito mode, saying "secret monitoring of web private browsing is highly offensive behaviour".

At the time Google's lawyers wrote it "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".

The new version makes it clear that Chrome deletes browsing activity, search history and form data entered in the browser while using the mode.

And, while previously stating activity 'might still be visible', the new version is more explicit, saying:

Incognito does not make you invisible online:

  • Sites know when you visit them
  • Employers or schools can track browsing activity
  • Internet service providers may monitor web traffic

The option to block third-party cookies in Incognito mode has also been removed from the landing page.

Given this revamp is still in testing, the final version that rolls out across all mobile and desktop devices using Chrome may change.