Lawsuit accuses Google of invading user privacy

Google is facing a $5 billion lawsuit over accusations that Chrome tracks user browsing habits even in incognito mode.

The tech giant is facing a possible class action lawsuit over allegations of invading user privacy. The lawsuit also claims that Google collects data without user permission.

The Chrome browser has an incognito mode, which allows users to browse the internet privately. The tech giant claims that this mode does not collect cookies and browsing history. However, this recent lawsuit claims that the company still collects data and tracks users even in this mode.

Invasion of privacy

This is not the first time that people accuse Google of invading privacy or illegally collecting user information. The entire tech industry is rife with such accusations. Some even claim that big tech companies are working alongside the government for surveillance projects.

The recent lawsuit claims that the tech giant is using its Analytics suite of tools to track user data. Additionally, this tool works alongside the Ad Manager and other website plug-ins and mobile apps.

Upon opening Chrome in incognito, a message claiming “browse privately” greets its user. However, the lawsuit claims that is not the case as Google still collects user data even in this mode.

The complainants filed the lawsuit in the San Jose federal court. The Boies Schiller & Flexner law firm represents those complainants. While the lawsuit claims they can raise this as a class action, only three complainants appear on court documents.

Response from Google

Google stands firm with its claim that it does Chrome in incognito mode does not collect data from the user. The company disputes the claims of the lawsuit. Google spokesperson Jose Castaneda says:

“Incognito mode in Chrome gives you the choice to browse the internet without your activity being saved to your browser or devices.”

Tech experts raise these concerns about a year ago. They claim that Chrome in incognito still allows websites to recognize its users. The tech giant promises to roll out a patch to fix the issue, but it did not arrive.

In August 2019, the tech giant said that it is working on a patch that will fix the issue. However, it appears that the company did not roll out such a patch.

This privacy issue is not exclusive to Chrome. All Chromium-based browsers have this problem. Browsers like Edge, Vivaldi, Opera, and Brave all share the same Chrome codebase.

If the federal court finds out that Google did violate the law, the company faces up to $5 billion in damages. The lawsuit seeks at least $5,000 for each instance the user browses the internet using Chrome’s incognito mode.

Image courtesy of Benjamin Dada/Unsplash

 

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