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Saturday, April 17, 2021

Google could be fined $5 billion for tracking users in Incognito Mode

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There’s trouble brewing for search giant Google as a recent ruling in the US has slapped Google with a class-action lawsuit that might land the company with a fat fine of $5 billion. As per the lawsuit, the company has been tracking and collecting data even when people use the private ‘Incognito Mode’ on the Chrome browser. Also Read – Google Chrome for Android will now allow users to preview a page before clicking the link

The state of California ruled that Google “did not notify users that Google engages in the alleged data collection while the user is in private browsing mode”, reports Bloomberg. Also Read – Google to soon show information on vaccination centres in India

As per a Google spokesperson, the company has disputed the claims made in the lawsuit. “We will defend ourselves vigorously against them,” the spokesperson was quoted as saying in the report. Also Read – Google Pixel 5a to be manufactured in India, more units in tow too

What is the issue with Chrome?

Google offers a private browsing mode on is web-browser called ‘Incognito Mode’ that gives its users the option to browse the internet without their online activities like browsing history, cache, passwords being tracked. However, the company specifically mentions in the browser that it will be tracking some of the user’s online behaviour.

“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 reiterated.
A Chrome user had filed a complaint in the US in June last year, claiming that Google has a “pervasive data tracking business”.

The user alleged in the lawsuit that the “tracking persists even if users take steps to protect their private information, such as using incognito mode in Chrome, or private browsing in Safari and other browsers”.

Time to right the wrong

To appease its large userbase, the company has announced that it will phase out third-party cookies from its Chrome browser.

One these cookies are phased out, it will not create alternate identifiers to track individuals when they are browsing the internet nor will it use the data in any of its other products.

The tech giant had announced its intent to remove support for third-party cookies from Chrome last year.

Third-party cookies have been blocked in Apple Safari and Mozilla Firefox and now Google aims to do the same in Chrome. The cookies allow advertisers to track you as you move between various websites.

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