In a proposed class action lawsuit [Brown et al v Google LLC et al, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 20-03664], Google is accused of illegally breaching the privacy of millions of users by tracking their internet activity even when their browsers are set to “private” mode.
Google conducts a widespread data tracking business, according to the complaint, which was filed in June. Even after enabling the incognito private browsing mode on Google Chrome, Google collects browser history and other web activity data, according to the report.
According to the complaint, Google “cannot continue to engage in the clandestine and unauthorised data collecting from almost every American with a computer or phone.”
A Google spokesperson, Jose Castaneda, said the Mountain View, California-based business will forcefully defend itself against the allegations.
The lawsuit wants at least $5 billion in damages, accusing the Alphabet Inc business of secretly gathering information about what users view online and where they visit, despite the fact that they are using Incognito mode, as Google refers to it.
Regardless of whether users click on Google-supported advertising, Google collects data through Google Analytics, Google Ad Manager, and other programmes and website plug-ins, including smartphone apps, according to the complaint filed in federal court in San Jose, California.
According to the complaint, this allows Google to learn about users’ acquaintances, interests, favourite meals, shopping patterns, and even the “most private and potentially embarrassing things” they look up online.
Google’s full response to the lawsuit is hereunder:
“We strongly disagree with these assertions and will forcefully defend ourselves against them. Chrome’s incognito mode allows you to browse the web without your activity being saved to your browser or device. Websites may be able to acquire information about your browser activities during your session, as we clearly mention each time you create a new incognito tab.’’
According to the complaint, the proposed class likely comprises “millions” of Google customers who have accessed the internet in “private” mode since June 1, 2016. For violations of federal eavesdropping and California privacy laws, it seeks at least $5,000 in damages per user.