Google has been targeted with a huge class action lawsuit in California claiming its Chrome browser still tracks users while in Incognito mode.
Although many users may think browsing Incognito protects them from all forms of tracking, the lawsuit alleges that’s not the case.
The lawsuit alleges the tech giant uses a variety of methods to collect data including Google Analytics, Google Ad Manager and some web plugins to profile users for advertising.
The proposed suit is seeking $5 billion in damages or up to $5,000 per affected user. The lawsuit is based on the idea Google’s practices are in breach of California’s privacy laws.
‘[Google] cannot continue to engage in the covert and unauthorized data collection from virtually every American with a computer or phone,’ reads the official complaint.
Incognito mode is billed as more private because the user’s history isn’t recorded, websites aren’t cached and cookies aren’t saved on a user’s computer.
To do this Google disables some background features, such as one called the FileSystem API which avoids leaving traces of activity on someone’s device. However, websites are able to check the availability of FileSystem API, and if they receive an error message back, determine that the person is using Incognito mode, and provide them a different experience.
Google believes it’s transparent about the types of data it does collect when a user is in Incognito mode and plans to fight any lawsuit brought against it.
‘As we clearly state each time you open a new incognito tab, websites might be able to collect information about your browsing activity,’ said Jose Castaneda, a company spokesperson.
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