SAN FRANCISCO: Google was sued in a proposed class action for illegally invading the privacy of millions of users by tracking their internet use through browsers set in ‘private’ mode.
The lawsuit seeks at least $5 billion, accusing the internet search company of collecting information about what people view online and where they browse, despite using what is called the Incognito mode.
According to a 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.
The complaint said 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.
Google “cannot continue to engage in the covert and unauthorized data collection from virtually every American with a computer or phone,” the complaint added
Google spokesman Jose Castaneda said the company will defend itself vigorously against the claims. “As we clearly state each time you open a new incognito tab, websites might be able to collect information about your browsing activity,” he said.
Many users view private browsing as a safe haven from watchful eyes but computer security researchers have raised concern that Google and rivals might use user profiles by tracking identities across different browsing modes and combining data from private and ordinary internet surfing.
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 privacy laws.
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