A $5 billion class action lawsuit has been filed against the search-engine giant Google and its parent company Alphabet on Tuesday for illegally invading the privacy of millions of users by extensively tracking their internet use through browsers set in “private incognito” mode.
Many internet-users innocently assume that their search history is not being tracked when they surf in private mode but 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-supported ads or not.
Incognito mode gives users the ability to use the browser without their activity being saved to their device however it still allows websites to track your data using Google Analytics and Google ad-manager. This allows Google to access the “most intimate and potentially embarrassing things” users may search for online.
The class-action lawsuit has been filed by a law firm named Boies Schiller Flexner in a federal court in San Jose, California. The class action includes ‘millions’ of Google users who since June 1, 2016 had been inadvertently browsing the internet in Incognito mode thinking their data was safe and secure.
The class action seeks at least $5,000 of damages per user for violations of federal wiretapping and California privacy laws.
The complaint further reads that the Mountain View, California-based company, Google “cannot continue to engage in the covert and unauthorized data collection from virtually every American with a computer or phone”.
There is not much difference when you surf and search on a normal mode when compared to incognito mode. Even while incognito, Google easily collects “all the information necessary” to connect your browsing to your identity.
To break it down to the TFI readers, the websites you are currently using will be able to track that you are on their page. It might be entirely plausible that your employer logs every website you visit while at work using the ‘incognito mode’.
And even if you log in to say your Facebook account in Incognito, Google will be tracking your activity on the platform.
Sounds Scary? It is indeed scary. Such is the network of sophistication of Google that privacy has become a myth in modern times. Google claims that this information has been out in the domain for quite some time but even if it is, the use of data that the user thinks is safe in incognito mode is a clear breach of trust.
Of late, Google has been coming under scanner from all quarters. Allegations of snooping on user’s data have long swirled as the class action lawsuit further proves. But now voices are coming out that Google is colluding with Chinese authorities too. Some scary reports have alleged that China has made deep inroads in Google’s AI programs.
After all last month, Google deleted 7 million negative reviews of TikTok and today, an app by the name “Remove Chinese Apps” has been deleted from the Google Play Store after CCP’s global mouthpiece published a hitjob article condemning the increasing usage of the app by Indians to delete Chinese apps.