KEY POINTS

  • A complaint filed against Google alleges that it collects information about Incognito mode users
  • The complaint seeks $5 billion in damages
  • A Google spokesperson said the company will defend itself against the claims

Google is now facing a lawsuit for allegedly collecting information about what users search for and where they are while browsing the internet using Incognito mode.

Google Chrome's Incognito mode is designed to let users browse in “private,” allowing them to use the internet without anything being recorded in the browser's history. This means users will not have to worry about having to delete records of whatever they searched for, viewed and did on the internet.

While Incognito mode is seen to offer more privacy compared to the regular Chrome browser, Incognito mode isn't as private as what people hope for, according to a lawsuit.

A complaint filed against Google alleged that the Redmond tech giant is collecting information about what Incognito users search for and view on the internet using the private browsing method, Reuters reported. The complaint, proposed to be a class-action lawsuit, is seeking $5 billion for damages.

Incognito but not really?

The complaint, filed in the federal court in San Jose, California, said Google gathers user information through several sources, including Google Ad Manager, Google Analytics and other website plug-ins and applications – whether or not users click on the ads Google displays on the screen.

By collecting information through these sources, Google will be able to learn many things about particular users, such as their favorite foods, hobbies, shopping habits, and more. It also allows Google to gauge the “most intimate and potentially embarrassing things” users look for and view on the internet.

The complainant said in the lawsuit that Google “cannot continue to engage in the covert and unauthorized data collection from virtually every American with a computer or phone,” alleging that it is committing violations of federal wiretapping and California privacy laws.

The lawsuit will likely include “millions” of people who have browsed the internet using Google Chrome's Incognito mode since June 1, 2016, the complainant added. The complaint will seek $5,000 of damages per user, amounting to a total of $5 billion.

Google spokesperson Jose Castaneda said Incognito users are told that websites might be able to collect information about their browsing activity every time they use the private browsing feature. Nevertheless, Google will defend itself against the claims, Castaneda added.