Google Chrome's Incognito Mode has been under fire over the past year, with Google being accused of using its private browsing mode to collect and record data. Now, the U.S. District Court has ruled the company must face the music.
U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh ruled Google doesn't notify users they're being tracked while using Chrome's private browsing mode, and it now faces a $5 billion class-action lawsuit, according to a report on Bloomberg.
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"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," ruled Koh. The lawsuit was filed back in June, with three complainants alleging Google is in violation of the Federal Wiretap Act and California Privacy laws, which protect communication between individuals.
Since millions of Chrome users would be affected by the intrusion of privacy, the plaintiffs seek $5,000 per user, which totals around $5 billion in punitive damages. That's a large sum, and the report states Google tried to throw out the case, but the judge denied the request.
Google still defends itself, stating in a court filing, "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 spokesperson Jose Castaneda previously stated, "Incognito mode in Chrome gives you the choice to browse the internet without your activity being saved to your browser or device. As we clearly state each time you open a new incognito tab, websites might be able to collect information about your browsing activity during your session."
Despite these claims, there's no denying Google is now in hot water after the judge's rule. Privacy while surfing the web isn't easy to come by these days, but some of the best VPN services around could fix that.