Big companies are not immune to controversy and Google is no exception. As 2021 comes to a close, here are a few of the tech giant's biggest problems it faced this year. 

Google Chrome Incognito Mode Lawsuit

Google Chrome’s Incognito mode is commonly used for private browsing. “In Incognito, none of your browsing history, cookies and site data, or information entered in forms are saved on your device,” the company’s support website states. “This means your activity doesn't show up in your Chrome browser history, so people who also use your device won't see your activity.”

In March, however, Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc., failed to get a lawsuit dismissed that was filed against the tech giant in 2020 claiming that it still collects data from users even when they’re using the browser’s private mode.

“The court concludes that Google did not notify users that Google engages in the alleged data collection while the user is in private browsing mode,” U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh said in her ruling, reports CNET.

In response to the $5 billion lawsuit, Google said it is clear in conveying that Incognito mode only halts data from being saved to a consumer's device.

Google Investigated For Alleged Harassment, Discrimination

Reuters reported on Dec. 17 that several Black women who work at Google have been interviewed by California's civil rights regulator after reports emerged of alleged incidents of harassment and discrimination in the Alphabet Inc. workplace. The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing spoke to the women who filed formal complaints and those who have not, according to emails viewed by Reuters.

"Our goal is to ensure that every employee experiences Google as an inclusive workplace," the tech giant responded, as reported by Reuters. "We’ll continue to focus on this important work and thoroughly investigate any concerns, to make sure our workplace is representative and equitable."

Big Departures

It all started last December when former Google research assistant Timnit Gebru, an AI computer scientist, renounced her position at the company after two people who objected to the company’s diversity practices were fired.

“I’ve been frustrated for a long time about the incentive structures that we have in place and how none of them seem to be appropriate for the kind of work I want to do,” Gebru said, according to a Washington Post report on Dec. 2.

Engineering director David Baker followed by leaving Google in January. Reuters noted that Gebru’s departure, “extinguished [his] desire to continue as a Googler.” 

According to another report by Reuters, Black and Latino workers in 2020 left their positions at Google at greater percentages than the year prior.