‘Incognito Mode’ does not mean ‘invisible’ says Google as it asks San Jose judge to dismiss the lawsuit alleging Chrome Incognito Mode privacy breach
Google wants the San Jose Judge to trash a privacy lawsuit that alleged that the search giant was collecting data of users even though they used Google’s Chrome browser’s Incognito Mode. The potential class-action lawsuit was filed in June by California residents Chasom Brown and Maria Nguyen and Florida resident William Byatt against Google LLC and it’s parent Alphabet Inc. for collecting user’s information even though they were using the Chrome browser Incognito Mode.
Brown & Co. allege that they were tracked by Google, despite using the Chrome browser’s incognito mode to visit sites including CNN.com, Apartments.com, and NYTimes.com. They cited that the Google Analytics and Google Ad Manager results show the users Google’s collection of IP addresses, browser and device information, and web pages’ content even if the user is using Incognito Mode in Chrome Browser.
Device fingerprinting aka canvas fingerprinting, browser fingerprinting, and machine fingerprinting is a process used to identify a device (or browser) based on its specific and unique configuration. Unlike web cookies that are stored client-side (i.e. on a user’s device), device fingerprints need to be stored server-side — i.e. in a database. It is a very controversial tracking technique that doesn’t rely on cookies but can reveal users’ private information.
Google wants the Judge to kick out the Chrome incognito mode privacy lawsuit
Google’s lawyers want the federal judge to throw out a lawsuit. “This is not a case where Google received data surreptitiously, much less deceitfully,” Google argues in papers filed Thursday with U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose. Google’s lawyers said that the lawsuit “is predicated on a willful misreading of Google’s disclosures.”
“Incognito mode prevents previously-set cookies on the browser from being shared with the websites visited, in order to make the device appear as a new user,” Google reply to the lawsuit states. “’Incognito” does not mean “invisible,’ however, and the fact that some unidentified users visited websites and reviewed certain pages is not hidden from the websites themselves, or from any third-party analytics or ads services they use.”
Brown et al. v. Google LLC et al. – 5:20-cv-03664(PDF) – ClassAction lawsuit is being heard by Lucy Koh in San Jose Federal Court.