Your ‘Secret Search History’ Isn’t So Secret: $5B Settlement Couldn’t Buy Google Incognito Mode’s Disguise – Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL)


The incognito mode in Google Chrome has been revealed to be not as private as users might have thought. Despite Google’s assurances, the tech giant has been tracking user activity in incognito mode all along.

A recent report by Android Central reveals that Google has been tracking user activity in incognito mode, despite previous assurances to the contrary. This revelation comes after a 2020 class-action lawsuit was filed against Google for misleading users about the privacy of their internet activities in incognito mode. The lawsuit alleged that Google’s actions violated federal wiretapping laws.

Despite Google’s efforts to dismiss the case, the legal battle persisted. Ultimately, Google agreed to a $5 billion settlement in 2023. However, the company did not admit to any wrongdoing as part of the settlement.

Now, Google has updated the disclaimer on the new tab page for incognito mode windows to make it clear that it still tracks user activity in incognito mode. “Others who use this device won’t see your activity, so you can browse more privately,” the new disclaimer reads. “This won’t change how data is collected by websites you visit and the services they use, including Google. Downloads, bookmarks, and reading list items will be saved.”

This change in the disclaimer provides a stark contrast to the original notice, which read: “Now you can browse privately, and other people who use this device won’t see your activity. However, downloads, bookmarks, and reading list items will be saved.”

The recent revelation about Google’s tracking of user activity in incognito mode raises significant privacy concerns. This development comes after Google agreed to a $5 billion settlement in 2023 to resolve the 2020 class-action lawsuit, which accused the tech giant of deceiving users about the privacy of their internet activities in incognito mode. Despite this settlement, Google has continued to track user activity in incognito mode, a fact that is now being made explicit through the updated disclaimer.

It is important for users to be aware that incognito mode does not provide complete privacy and that their activity can still be tracked by Google and the websites they visit. Users who are concerned about their privacy may want to explore alternative browsers or use additional privacy tools to protect their online activities.

In an era where privacy is becoming increasingly important, it is crucial for tech companies to be transparent about their data collection practices. Users should have the right to make informed decisions about their online privacy and have control over how their data is collected and used. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, it is essential for both users and tech companies to prioritize privacy and ensure that user data is protected.

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