Google executives filed a lawsuit that they knew ‘incognito mode’ could not protect privacy

A federal judge in California is considering a motion to dismiss a lawsuit against Google that alleges the company misunderstood that it protected your privacy while you were using it. privacy mode in Chrome browser.

The suit, filed in Northern California District Court over two years ago by five users, is now awaiting recent motions by these plaintiffs seeking certification of two class actions.

The first is for any Chrome user who visits a non-Google website that contains Google tracking or advertising code and has a Google account that is in “incognito mode”. The second is “Private Browsing Mode” for all Safari, Edge and Internet Explorer users with a Google account who visit non-Google websites that contain Google tracking or ad code.

According to court documents Bloomberg revealed, a Google employee joked about the browser’s incognito mode and how it doesn’t really offer privacy. They also criticized the company for not doing more to give users the privacy they thought they had.

“As plaintiffs are battling Google’s cynical efforts to delay the production of relevant evidence, another hearing will be held on October 11, which could have a significant impact on the lawsuit. Boyes Schiller Flexner LLP, a law firm representing class action plaintiffs. “Plaintiffs’ motion for class certification is being debated and they are currently awaiting a decision.”

U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers will decide whether tens of millions of Incognito users can collectively seek statutory damages ranging from $100 to $1,000 per violation.

The definition of the word “secret” is to disguise or conceal one’s identity.

Web browser privacy settings are intended to be removed local Traces of the websites you visit, your searches, and the information you enter into online forms. Simply put, privacy modes like incognito mode are expected not to track and store data about your online searches and the websites you visit.

Google is also facing a lawsuit from the Department of Justice related to user privacy. Attorney General of several states, Texas, Washington DC, and Washington State. early this month, Google has settled a lawsuit filed by AG of Arizona for $85 million..

A spokesperson for Boies Schiller Flexner said, “AG is pursuing Google for privacy concerns, and this is a major civil lawsuit involving Google’s incognito browser.”

originally Filed in June 2020the class action lawsuit is seeking at least $5 billion and accuses the Alphabet division. Gathering information secretly About what and where people are browsing online despite using incognito mode. Lawyers for the plaintiffs say a flood of internal Google emails proves that management knew for years that “incognito mode” wouldn’t work as claimed. .

When a user chooses to use incognito mode, Google’s web browser should be removed automatically Browsing history and cookies at the end of the session.

The plaintiff, the owner of the Google account, alleged that the search engine collected the data and distributed and sold it for targeted advertising through its real-time bidding (RTB) system.

Plaintiffs allege that even in incognito mode, Google sees the websites Chrome users visit and that “Google Analytics, Google’s “fingerprinting” technology, concurrent Google applications and processes on consumer devices, and Google’s It claims to be able to collect data “through means including AdManager.” .

Ad Manager helps businesses Corporate web, mobile and video ad delivery and reporting.

More than 70% of all online websites “use one or more of these Google services,” according to the lawsuit.Specifically, Plaintiffs claim that each time a user in private browsing mode visits a website running Google Analytics, or Google Ad ManagerGoogle’s software script on the website “secretly instructs the user’s browser to send another secret message to Google’s servers in California.”

Google learns exactly what content your browsing software was asking websites to display, and also sends headers containing URL information for content you have viewed and requested online. The lawsuit alleges that the device’s IP address, location data, and user ID are all tracked and recorded by Google.

“Once collected, this mountain of data is analyzed to create a digital dossier about millions of consumers. It identifies us by gender, age,” the lawsuit claims.

March 2021, California Judge 82 complaints filed by Google lawyers dismissed dismiss the lawsuit, ruled against the companylitigation can proceed.

July, Google ordered to pay about $1 million Attorney’s fees and costs as liquidated damages for failure to timely disclose evidence in litigation.

A spokesperson for Boies Schiller Flexner said, “Although this type of accusation from the court was unprecedented for Google, it continues to thwart plaintiffs’ efforts to gather material evidence. It does not appear to deter him from engaging in further discovery fraud.” “Plaintiffs have resubmitted orders to the court compelling the production of evidence and seeking sanctions.”

Google did not respond to a request for comment.

Google spokesperson told the Washington Post This week, we gave users a candid explanation of what Incognito mode offers for privacy and how the plaintiff “deliberately misled our statement.”

According to Jack Gold, principal analyst at J. Gold Associates, a large part of Google’s revenue comes from tracking everyone and selling ad space. “If they really create a completely private browsing experience, there will be no revenue streams,” he said. “So I suspect there is a ‘balancing act’ going on internally as to where the line between privacy and tracking lies. No company builds a free browser without being able to generate revenue in some way. ”

The plaintiff in the lawsuit said he chose “private browsing mode” to prevent others from knowing what he was watching “on the Internet.”

For example, users often enable private browsing mode to access particularly sensitive websites. These websites may track users’ dating history, sexual interests and/or sexual orientation, political or religious views, travel plans, or future personal plans (eg, buying an engagement ring).

“I think it’s all about Google and other browsers. Users be careful,” said Gold. “You have to trust manufacturers to protect your privacy, but doing so isn’t always in their best interest.”

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

https://www.computerworld.com/article/3678190/google-execs-knew-incognito-mode-failed-to-protect-privacy-suit-claims.html Google executives filed a lawsuit that they knew ‘incognito mode’ could not protect privacy

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