Google and their parent company Alphabet have been hit with a class action lawsuit that claims they have been collecting information during so-called ‘private browsing sessions’ without the users consent. The lawsuit is looking for at least £4 Billion from the tech giants. The breach of privacy is believed to have affected millions of people that use incognito mode on Google Chrome, a browser that holds the highest share of users (upwards of 62%) as of 2020.
The incognito mode specifies that users can search the internet without their cookies, browsing history or any information entered into forms being saved to the device. However this does not prevent the websites you visit from collecting information through Google’s Ad Manager, Analytics and Sign-In buttons which are tools websites use to better understand how visitors find and use their site. On top of this it does not stop your ISP (Internet Service Provider) from seeing which sites you are visiting, a worrying concept.
The lawsuit declares that Google
“cannot continue to engage in the covert and unauthorized data collection from virtually every American with a computer or phone”.
Google refutes the claims stating that they are upfront about what information might be collected each time the user opens an incognito tab. The class-action lawsuit claims that what Google is doing is “unlawful and intentional interception and collection” of confidential browsing information.
It seems the privacy features of incognito mode are widely misunderstood. incognito does little more that suspend web history in your local browser. Many privacy features that one would assume to be present are actually not. Features such as preventing your ISP from logging details of the web pages you visit or stopping Google’s Ad Manager from collecting your browsing activity. Consider instead using a VPN to encrypt your online activity to hide it from your ISP and adding a browser extension to block advertising cookies. Keep Stick includes both these features and more as standard to help you stay truly private on line.