Your private Chrome web browsing is not as secret as you think – Google users warned

By Staff

If you set your Chrome browser to Incognito mode your web history is still be tracked.

Anyone who sets their web browser to private – or so-called “Incognito” – mode might believe that their web searches are being performed in secret. However, it appears that Google has still been keeping tabs on what users are up to even when they have switched on these supposedly confidential settings. Although all search history disappears from devices when surfing the internet using Incognito options, Google has still been able to view and collect data from Chrome.

Now, thanks to a new legal judgement, the US technology giant has agreed to remove records containing personal information from users of its popular web browser.

The lawsuit, which was first launched back in 2020, accuses Google of tracking internet activity even when “Incognito” mode was activated.

Google will now need to delete billions of personal records stored in its data centres and make more prominent privacy disclosures about Chrome’s Incognito mode when it is activated.

The agreement also imposes other controls designed to limit Google’s collection of personal information.

“This Settlement ensures real accountability and transparency from the world ’s largest data collector and marks an important step toward improving and upholding our right to privacy on the Internet,” the settlement filing said.

While Google is supporting the deal, it disputes the claims as “meritless”, and said it was only required to “delete old personal technical data that was never associated with an individual and was never used for any form of personalisation”.

“We never associate data with users when they use Incognito mode,” Google spokesperson José Castañeda said. “We are happy to delete old technical data that was never associated with an individual and was never used for any form of personalisation.”

Although Google has been keen to dismiss any wrongdoing, lawyers representing Chrome users depicted the settlement as a major victory for personal privacy in an age of ever-increasing digital surveillance, according to court papers.

They valued the settlement at between 4.75 billion US dollars (£3.77 billion) and 7.8 billion US dollars (£6.2 billion), based on calculations of potential advertising sales that the personal information collected through Chrome could have generated in the past.

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