Google Faces a $5 Billion Lawsuit – Is Incognito Mode Not Safe?

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Incognito Mode
Incognito Mode

Google Faces a $5 Billion Lawsuit – Is Incognito Mode Not Safe?

Tech giant Google is facing a proposed class-action suit in the US for tracking users in the “incognito mode”, in an alleged invasion of privacy. The class-action suit demands $5 billion from Google’s parent firm Alphabet for violating the Federal Wiretap law and the invasion of privacy Act.

“Google tracks and collects consumer browsing history and other web activity data no matter what safeguards consumers undertake to protect their data privacy,” reads the complaint. The search giant surreptitiously collects data through Google Analytics, Google Ad Manager, website plug-ins, and other applications, including mobile apps, according to the complaint. 

The lawsuit seeks at least $5 billion from Google and its parent company, Alphabet, according to Reuters. The complaint says the proposed class may include “millions” of Google users and is looking for damages of at least $5,000 for each individual.

What Google says on the matter

As the issue surfaced, Google spokesman Jose Castaneda explicitly denied the allegations, saying that the company is upfront about its data collection practices for Incognito mode, and what it does is not ‘illegal’.

“We clearly state each time you open a new incognito tab, websites might be able to collect information about your browsing activity,”

What is the incognito mode?

Incognito Mode or “private browsing” is a privacy feature on Google Chrome that actually disables the browsing history of the browser. This privacy mode allows people to browse the Web without storing local data that could potentially be retrieved at a later date.

Chrome won’t save the following information:

  • Your browsing history
  • Cookies and site data
  • Information entered in forms

Your activity might still be visible to:

  • Websites that you visit
  • Your employer or school
  • Your Internet service provider

You can also use a keyboard shortcut to open an Incognito window:

  1. Windows, Linux, or Chrome OS: Press Ctrl + Shift + n.
  2. Mac: Press ⌘ + Shift + n.

Can the WiFi owner see what I search on incognito?

The data is seen quite clearly on the router and ISP logs. Incognito does not hide your activity or make you untrackable. It simply doesn’t save your browsing history on the browser you’re currently using. … It wouldn’t take much to discover what sites you’ve visited while utilizing incognito mode.

Private Browsing Won't Protect You From Everything | PCMag

Is Incognito Mode Really Private? 

Well, the answer is no.  

Incognito mode offers some privacy,  but it doesn’t provide total anonymity. In fact, when you open an Incognito window, it explicitly states that your browsing activity might still be visible to websites you visit, your employer or school, and your internet service provider.

Additionally, it provides no protection against hackers or government surveillance.

How to browse Privately?

A virtual private network (VPN) is a tool that encrypts your data and creates a private and secure tunnel for your information to pass through. If a hacker gains access to encrypted data, they will not be able to decode it. So, even if they intercept your data, your details will still be hidden.

Most VPN providers have a network of servers all over the world. When you connect to a VPN, your data is routed through one of these servers.

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