A proposed class-action lawsuit has accused Google of violating U.S. federal wiretap laws by tracking the online travels of users when the Chrome browser is in Incognito private browsing mode.
Reuters reports the class-action suit argues that Google has been intentionally deceiving customers into believing that they have control over the information they share with the company, even though the company is surreptitiously collecting information about what people view online and where they browse when they use Chrome’s private browsing mode.
According to the complaint filed in the federal court in San Jose, California, Google gathers data through Google Analytics, Google Ad Manager and other applications and website plug-ins, including smartphone apps, regardless of whether users click on Google-supported ads.
This helps Google learn about users’ friends, hobbies, favorite foods, shopping habits, and even the “most intimate and potentially embarrassing things” they search for online, the complaint said.
Google “cannot continue to engage in the covert and unauthorized data collection from virtually every American with a computer or phone,” the complaint said.
Google spokesman Jose Castaneda said the internet giant company 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. As we clearly state each time you open a new incognito tab, websites might be able to collect information about your browsing activity.”
The complaint said the proposed class likely includes “millions” of Google users who since June 1, 2016 browsed the internet in “private” mode. It seeks at least $5,000 of damages per user for violations of federal wiretapping and California privacy laws.