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Google May Face a $5 Billion Fine Over Tracking Users in ‘Incognito’ Mode

Even if users browse in “Incognito” mode to keep their search activity private, Google was unable to defeat a lawsuit alleging that it secretly collects vast amounts of internet data. 

Consumers who filed a class action claim that even though they disable data collection in Chrome, other Google tools used by websites end up collecting their personal information. The Alphabet Inc. unit’s initial motion to dismiss the lawsuit was rejected by a federal judge on Friday.

“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 in San Jose, California, wrote in her ruling.

The decision comes as senators scrutinise Google and Apple Inc. for their data collection activities. 

A US judge has slapped Google with a class action lawsuit that might land the search giant with a fine of $5 billion. As per the suit, Google has been tracking and collating data even when people use the private ‘Incognito’ mode on its Chrome browser.

Last year, Google along with other powerful colossal corporations were involved in an Antitrust battle with the government.

Google has announced that it will stop using third-party cookies that help advertisers monitor customer web activity next year and will not use any other methods to track individuals.

Three Google users filed a lawsuit in June alleging that the company engages in a “pervasive data tracking business.” According to the complaint, Google collects browsing history and other web activity data even though users take precautions to protect their data, such as using “Incognito” private browsing mode.

“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,’” read the complaint.

The plaintiffs, according to Google, agreed to its privacy policy, which the company says clearly discloses its data collection activities.

“Google also 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,” Google said in a court filing.

“We will defend ourselves vigorously against them,” the spokeperson was quoted as saying in the news report. Google Chrome’s ‘Incognito’ mode allows users the option to browse the internet without their activities being saved to either devices or browser.

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Drashti

Drashti is a free-spirited TheDigitalHacker contributor, who loves writing stories and listening to music. She loves learning and exploring new languages and cultures, and makes sure to click a picture of the same for her Memoir.
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