Google’s Incognito Mode Isn’t Incognito, Says US Lawsuit

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Google’s Incognito Mode Isn’t Incognito, Says US Lawsuit

Google’s search engine continues to collect data from users even those who use their browser’s incognito browsing function, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said on Thursday. He filed an addendum to a lawsuit filed against the company earlier this year.

The states of Texas, Indiana, Washington and the District of Columbia filed separate lawsuits against Google in January in state courts over what they called deceptive location-tracking practices that invade users’ privacy.

Paxton’s forwarding adds Google’s incognito mode to the lawsuit opened in January. Incognito browsing or “private browsing” is a feature that Paxton said should entail Google not tracking a user’s search history, activity and location.

The lawsuit says Google offers a “private browsing” option that may include “viewing highly personal websites that may indicate, for example, the user’s medical history and political or sexual orientation. Or, perhaps, the user wants to buy a gift to someone without the person discovering the surprise of being bombarded by targeted ads.”

The lawsuit claims that “in reality, Google secretly collects a lot of personal data, even when a user engages in incognito mode.”

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In January, the company said that “the cases are based on inaccurate claims and outdated claims about our settings. We always include privacy features in our products and provide robust controls for location data.”

Paxton previously claimed that Google misled consumers by continuing to track users’ locations even when they tried to stop it.

Google offers a “location history” setting and tells users that if they turn it off “the places you go will no longer be stored,” Texas said.

In January, an Arizona judge ruled that claims that Google misled users with unclear smartphone location tracking settings should be heard by a jury and declined to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the state’s attorney general.

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