Google sued for secretly amassing vast trove of user data

Ruben Fields
June 4, 2020

Incognito mode within Google's Chrome browser gives users the choice to search the internet without their activity being saved to the browser or device.

Google also violated a California law that requires consent of all parties to read or learn the contents of private communication, alleged the lawsuit.

Google is facing yet another lawsuit that claims the search giant collects too much information on users.

According to the suit, the company collects information, including IP addresses and browsing histories, whenever users visit web pages or use an app tied to common Google services, such as Google Analytics and Google Ad Manager.

Google, however, intends to fight the accusation tooth and nail, and believes it is sufficiently transparent about the types of data it collects - and in which context.

The lawsuit (available at this link) was filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California. According to the plaintiffs, Google still monitors people via online tools when they have Incognito Mode enabled in Chrome.

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"[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.

While private browsing has been available from Google for some time, Boies Schiller Flexner said it recently chose to represent three plaintiffs based in the US.

"We strongly dispute these claims, and we will defend ourselves vigorously against them", a Google spokesperson was quoted a saying.

The lawsuit seeks at least $5 billion (4 billion pounds), accusing the Alphabet Inc unit of surreptitiously collecting information about what people view online and where they browse, despite their using what Google calls Incognito mode. Similarly, if you actually log into a website like, say, Instagram while in Incognito Mode, the site will be able to see what you're doing and all the usual account activity will be visible to other users even after you've closed the incognito tab.

In the filing against the company, Boies Schiller Flexner said: "People everywhere are becoming more aware (and concerned) that their personal communications are being intercepted, collected, recorded or exploited for gain by technology companies they have come to depend on".

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