According to the docket filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, the tech giant's Google Chrome "private browsing mode" feature tracks and records websites despite the promise of being able to "browse the web privately".
- Google Chrome update beefs up online security
- Google Chrome sketchy policy change
- Google Chrome vs. Microsoft Edge: Which browser is best?
“Google tracks and collects consumer browsing history and other web activity data no matter what safeguards consumers undertake to protect their data privacy,” the complaint, filed by Mark C. Mao, a partner at the law firm Boies Schiller Flexner, reads.
Google is no stranger to lawsuits and criticism over its data collection habits. As we reported earlier this year, Google removed a statement from its Chrome web browser that ensured its built-in tracker didn't contain personal information.
Google spokesperson Jose Castaneda responded to the potential class-action suit, saying the company disputes the claims and will "vigorously" defend itself in court.
“Incognito mode in Chrome gives you the choice to browse the internet without your activity being saved to your browser or device," Castenada said in a statement to the New York Times. "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."
Google's incognito tab does inform users that activity might be visible to the websites they visited, employers, schools and ISP. Its sole purpose is to prevent other people who use the device from viewing your activity.
Despite the disclaimer, the three complainants allege that Google is in violation of the Federal Wiretap Act and California Privacy laws, which protect communication between individuals.
They are seeking $5,000 per user, which totals $5 billion in punitive damages for the millions of Chrome users who have used Incognito mode to browse the web.
Stay in the know with Laptop Mag
Get our in-depth reviews, helpful tips, great deals, and the biggest news stories delivered to your inbox.
Hilda Scott uses her combined passion for gadgets and bargain shopping to bring you the best prices on all things tech. She has a bachelor’s degree in film and media studies from Hunter College and 11 years of tech and entertainment journalism. Her work has been featured on Tom’s Guide, iTechPost, Examiner.com, Parlemag, Enstars, and Latin Times. When she's not scouting for the best deals, Hilda’s catching up on her favorite TV shows and pro-wrestling matches.