Google Can Be Sued for Tracking Users in Private Browsing Mode, Judge Says


Hang on Sloopy!
May 18, 2020
A U.S. district judge in California has stated that Google can be sued for collecting data on users even when they use “private browsing mode” on their selected browsers.

The lawsuit in question is a class action brought forward by three Google users—Chasom Brown, Maria Nguyen, and William Byatt—who used private browsing mode in Chrome and in Safari, Apple’s web browser, in recent years. It claims that Google tracks and collects consumer browsing history and other web activity data “no matter what safeguards” users implement. In this case, Brown v. Google, the specific safeguard referenced is private browsing mode, a feature offered by many browsers. On Google’s Chrome browser, this is referred to as “Incognito mode.”

Nonetheless, the complaint alleges that Google still tracks users in private browsing mode using Google Analytics, Google Ad Manager, the Google app on mobile devices, and the Google sign-in button for websites.

Google Analytics and Ad Manager are common traffic and ad tools for websites that provide information about their visitors, such as their demographic data and the frequency with which they visit the site, and help them manage their ad campaigns. In fact, the suit alleges that more than 70% of websites use Google Analytics.

“Through its pervasive data tracking business, Google knows who your friends are, what your hobbies are, what you like to eat, what movies you watch, where and when you like to shop, what your favorite vacation destinations are, what your favorite color is, and even the most intimate and potentially embarrassing things you browse on the internet—regardless of whether you follow Google’s advice to keep your activities ‘private,’” attorneys for the plaintiffs stated.......