Google has to face a class action lawsuit that claims the company collects data from users even when they are using Incognito mode. The lawsuit seeks at least $5 billion.
Three Google users filed a complaint last June claiming Google has a “pervasive data tracking business” (via Bloomberg).
“Google knows who your friends are, what your hobbies are, what you like to eat, what movies you watch, where and when you like to shop, what your favorite vacation destinations are, what your favorite color is, and even the most intimate and potentially embarrassing things you browse on the internet — regardless of whether you follow Google’s advice to keep your activities ‘private,’” according to the complaint.
The US District Judge Lucy Koh wrote in her ruling that the company “did not notify users that Google engages in the alleged data collection while the user is in private browsing mode.”
Google argued that it “makes clear that ‘Incognito’ does not mean ‘invisible,’ and that the user’s activity during that session may be visible to websites they visit, and any third-party analytics or ads services the visited websites use,” in a court filing.
The search engine giant earlier this year said that it will be eliminating support for third-party cookies in the Chrome web browser. These tracking cookies “help advertisers keep tabs on consumers’ web activity and won’t employ alternative methods to track individuals.” There will be no alternatives to these cookies once they are eliminated, the company said.