Judge In Google Case Disturbed That Even «Incognito» Users Are Tracked.

Judge In Google Case Disturbed That Even 'Incognito' Users Are Tracked

A judge is "disturbed" by the finding that even the users browsing in private mode are tracked.

When Google users browse in "Incognito" mode, just how hidden is their activity?

The Alphabet Inc. unit says activating the stealth mode in Chrome, or "private browsing" in other browsers, means the company won't "remember your activity." But a judge with a history of taking Silicon Valley giants to task about their data collection raised doubts Thursday about whether Google is being as forthright as it needs to be about the personal information it's collecting from users.

At a hearing Thursday in San Jose, California, US District Judge Lucy Koh said she's "disturbed" by Google's data collection practices as described in a class-action lawsuit that says the company's private browsing promises is a "ruse." The suit seeks $5,000 in damages for each of the millions of people whose privacy has been compromised since June of 2016.

Weighing Google's attempt to get the suit dismissed, Koh said she finds it "unusual" that the company would make the "extra effort" of data collection if it doesn't use the information to build user profiles or targeted advertising.

Google has become a target antitrust complaints in the last year filed by state and federal officials -- as well as businesses -- accusing it of abusing its dominance in digital advertising and online search. Koh has a deeper history with the company as a vocal critic of its privacy policies. She forced Google in one notable case to disclose its scanning of emails to build profiles and target advertising.

In this case, Google is accused of relying on pieces of its code within websites that use its analytics and advertising services to scrape users' supposedly private browsing history and send copies of it to Google's servers.

Google makes it seem like private browsing mode gives users more control of their data, Amanda Bonn, a lawyer representing users, told Koh. In reality, "Google is saying there's basically very little you can do to prevent us from collecting your data, and that's what you should assume we're doing," Bonn said.

Company Disclosure

Google argues that every time people use Chrome's private browsing mode, a full-page notice makes clear that other people who use the device won't see their activity -- but that it may still be visible to, among others, websites they visit and their internet service provider.

Andrew Schapiro, a lawyer for Google, said the company's privacy policy "expressly discloses" its practices. "The data collection at issue is disclosed," he said.

Another lawyer for Google, Stephen Broome, said website owners who contract with the company to use its analytics or other services are well aware of the data collection described in the suit.

Broome's attempt to downplay the privacy concerns by pointing out that the federal court system's own website uses Google services ended up backfiring.

The judge demanded an explanation "about what exactly Google does," while voicing concern that visitors to the court's website are unwittingly disclosing information to the company.

"I want a declaration from Google on what information they're collecting on users to the court's website, and what that's used for," Koh told the company's lawyers.

The case is Brown v. Google, 20-cv-03664, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

NDTV News

NDTV.com provides latest news from India and the world. Get today’s news headlines from Business, Technology, Bollywood, Cricket, videos, photos, live news coverage and exclusive breaking news from India.

https://www.ndtv.com/

Related news
UK's Prince Philip has died at age 99

UK's Prince Philip has died at age 99

Prince Philip, the lifelong companion of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, has died, Buckingham Palace announced Friday. He was 99. In a statement, the palace said: "It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved ...

Watch: The Announcement Of Prince Philip's Passing Posted On Royal Palace Gates - NBC News NOW.

Watch: The Announcement Of Prince Philip's Passing Posted On Royal Palace Gates - NBC News NOW.

In keeping with tradition, official notices announcing the death of the queen's husband, Prince Philip, were posted on the gates of royal palaces in the U.K. » Subscribe to NBC News: » Watch more NBC video: NBC News Digital is a collection of inno...

Live: White House Covid-19 Response Team Holds Briefing - NBC News.

Live: White House Covid-19 Response Team Holds Briefing - NBC News.

Watch as the White House Covid-19 response team holds a press conference on the coronavirus pandemic. » Subscribe to NBC News: » Watch more NBC video: NBC News is a leading source of global news and information. Here you will find clips from NBC N...

Burnout in office workers worsens during pandemic

Burnout in office workers worsens during pandemic

Researchers say stress and exhaustion among office workers has worsened during the coronavirus pandemic. Wendy Dickinson, a psychologist and the founder and CEO of Grow Counseling, joins "CBSN AM" to talk about the problem and offer some advice on...

Live: Jen Psaki holds White House press briefing

Live: Jen Psaki holds White House press briefing

White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks to press. #FoxNews Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox News Channel Live: FOX News Channel (FNC) is a 24-hour all-encompassing news service delivering breaking news as well as po...

Man whose brother was killed by illegal immigrant sends message to Biden.

Man whose brother was killed by illegal immigrant sends message to Biden.

Jody Jones joins ‘Fox & Friends’ to discuss his brother’s death and the crisis at the border. #FoxNews Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox News Channel Live: FOX News Channel (FNC) is a 24-hour all-encompassing news service...