Google is facing a class-action lawsuit – the plaintiffs claim that the firm unlawfully collects personal data of users who have decided to use Incognito mode.
Despite Google making efforts to have the case thrown out, a judge in California decided that a class-action lawsuit against the company is inevitable.
Last June, three users filed a complaint accusing Google of engaging in a “pervasive data tracking business”.
Chrome’s Incognito mode is an important privacy control that is supposed to give users a say in how they want their personal data to be treated.
Other browsers, such as Safari, offer similar functionality.
The lawsuit seeks at least $5bn.
According to Lucy Koh, US District judge, the company failed to notify its users that it engages in the alleged data collection even when they have the private browsing mode enabled.
In a court filing, Google responded by stating that the company took steps to inform users that ‘Incognito’ does not imply any invisibility.
Furthermore, the company said that any websites visited during the session may still analyse their activities, and the same goes for third-party analytics or ads services that the website uses.
According to José Castañeda, Google’s spokesperson, the firm disputes these claims and will be fighting back vigorously.
He claims that Chrome’s Incognito mode gives users the option to surf the web without any data being saved to their browser or devices.
Every time a new Incognito tab is opened, the browser clearly states that any websites you visit may be able to collect information about your online activities for the duration of your browsing session.
Earlier this year, Google unveiled that third-party tracking cookies will be phased out, and there is no intention of replacing them with a less-invasive alternative, despite this having an effect on the company’s advertising business.