Google is sued in the USA for allegedly tracking users' "private" browsing

Ruben Fields
June 3, 2020

Google, owned by parent Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), is facing a US$5bn class action lawsuit in the United States after the search engine giant was accused of invading the privacy of users by tracking their activity through browsers set to private mode.

The lawsuit seeks at least $5 billion, accusing the Alphabet Inc unit of illegally collecting information about what people are viewing online and where they are doing their browsing, through various applications and website plug-ins including Google Analytics and Google Ad Manager.

Mao said: "Google tracks and collects consumer browsing history and other web activity data no matter what safeguards consumers undertake to protect their data privacy".

"[Google] can not continue to engage in the covert and unauthorized data collection from virtually every American with a computer or phone", reads the official complaint.

Even as it scoops up information, the search-engine giant assures users - falsely - that they're in control of what they share with the company, according to the suit, which includes claims for invasion of privacy and violations of federal wiretapping law. Google has denied the claims brought against it in the lawsuit. The statute provides users with the right to sue if their private communications are intercepted.

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The class-action lawsuit, filed in US District Court for the Northern District of California, alleged that Google tracked and collected consumer browsing history even if users took steps to maintain their privacy, reports The New York Times.

The complaint was filed by Boies Schiller Flexner on behalf of three people with Google accounts: Chasom Brown and Maria Nguyen who live in Los Angeles, and William Byatt, who lives in Florida.

Google has said it will defend itself "vigorously' against the claims". "Incognito mode in Chrome gives you the choice to browse the internet without your activity being saved to your browser or device".

The lawsuit argues that while Google lets users turn off data collection when using its Chrome web browser, other Google tools used by websites themselves scoop up their data anyways.

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