It is often a daily reminder to all of us living in our technological world to be careful whenever we are browsing online. Although there is an “incognito” option for browsers such as Google Chrome, it doesn’t automatically mean you’re completely hidden.
That’s correct: switching to a private mode doesn’t mean that a user is not being tracked online. In fact, a lawsuit has been issued against Google for apparently pursuing its users and misrepresenting Chrome’s privacy settings. The plaintiffs are also looking at a sum of USD 5 billion for this issue.
For a quick recap, we know that by switching to ‘incognito’ mode allows us to browse the web ‘secretly’—that is, compared to surfing Chrome normally, incognito does not save our web history no matter if you used it on any device.
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However, we must come to the awareness now that it doesn’t really prevent Google or any third-party company from tracking users online. Simply put: being in incognito mode menas browsing data may still be acquired by Google, as well as their power to share it with anonymous publishers and advertisers.
Now, this is the focal point of the lawsuit filed against Google. The lawsuit, Brown et. al. v Google LLC et. al., disputes that the company still collects and tracks users’ browsing history and other such online activities even though users take safety precautions to secure their privacies. It also argues that, despite Google’s option towards users to adjust their privacy settings, information would still be gathered.
The lawsuit continues that Google also violated the Federal Wiretap Act. This gives users the power to complain against a company whom they suspect is breaching on their internet activity without proper warrant.
How does Google respond on their defense? Spokesperson, Jose Castenda, announces that Google strongly disputes the claims, and that Google is prepared to defend itself vigorously. He also reiterated that incognito might be able to collect information about one’s browser activity while on this mode.
Again, the plaintiffs are seeking for at least USD 5,000 per user (that is 3 times the amount of actual damage done in addition to injuctive relief) to come up with a total of USD 5 billion or more.
In the case the judge declares the company liable, Google will have to create major changes just to live up to the regulations. Should the trial continue, we are looking at something which could take years to resolve given the complexity of the case as well as the amount being asked.