Google Sued for Tracking Private Browsing

Yolanda Curtis
June 4, 2020

A $5bn lawsuit filed against Google claims that the company is violating Californian laws that require the consent of all parties to read or learn the contents of private communication.

Google is facing a $5 billion class action lawsuit in the United States over allegations that its Chrome web browser collected user information even in Incognito mode.

However, Google fails to mention that other tracking tools used by the company may continue to track users by collecting information such as Internet Protocol addresses as well as browser and device information, according to the complaint. Websites can still collect your data and movements between websites using trackers and cookies, all that private browsing mode offers is a way of eradicating trace of that session from your local machine, and prevent those cookies from being carried over into another session.

Many internet users assume their search history isn't being tracked when they view in private mode, but Google says this isn't the case.

The complaint was filed in San Jose, California, and alleges that Google gathers data through Google Analytics, Google Ad Manager, and other applications and plug-in including smartphone apps, regardless of whether users click on Google-supported ads while using the private browsing mode.

Google has been slapped with a class-action lawsuit seeking $5 billion.

Google's incognito mode is a browser setting that lets users presumably surf the web privately, without leaving identifying information about themselves behind as they do so - at least, that's what the average person might think.

Google has denied the claims, with spokesman Jose Castaneda saying that the company will defend itself "vigorously against them".

Google said this is not illegal and it is upfront about the data being collected in this mode. Similarly, if you actually log into a website like, say, Instagram while in Incognito Mode, the site will be able to see what you're doing and all the usual account activity will be visible to other users even after you've closed the incognito tab.

The lawsuit, filed in US District Court for the Northern District of California, said that Google uses other tracking tools it provides to website publishers and advertisers to keep track of what websites people visit.

The lawsuit names three Google users as plaintiffs: L.A. residents Chasom Brown and Maria Nguyen, and William Byatt, who lives in Florida.

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