The “incognito mode” of the Chrome browser was sued in court

With the development of electronic devices such as computers and mobile phones and the mobile Internet, the Internet is now an indispensable "life necessity" for people. Therefore, data security is also one of our most concerned issues. However, in the data world, we all seem to have become "transparent people."

According to Reuters, a group lawsuit filed by three Google users against Google and its parent company Alphabet in June 2020 has made new progress in California courts: a California federal judge ruled that Google, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc. Plaintiffs who illegally track their Internet usage in the private browsing mode can question the company's CEO Sundar Pichai for two hours.

▲Google CEO Sundar Pichai, picture from: Reuters

According to the lawsuit filed by the three plaintiffs to the court in June 2020, when users turn on private browsing in their browsers, Google will still use technical monitoring methods such as Google Analytics and Google Ad Manager. Track and collect users' browsing history.

In response to the allegations made by users, a Google spokesperson once said: "Every time a user turns on private browsing, we have made it clear that private browsing only allows you to choose that your web browsing activities will not be stored in the browser and Inside the device, however, the webpages you visit may still collect your browsing activity. Google will do its best to defend its rights and interests in this lawsuit."

You can see in the relevant instructions page of Google Chrome about private browsing that Chrome will not save the browsing history, cookies and website data, the information entered in the form, and the permissions granted to the website after the user exits all private browsing windows. .

▲Image from: Google

And, the page also stated that the incognito mode will prevent Chrome from saving the user's browsing activity to the local history. However, the user’s activities (such as location information) may still be seen by the following related parties: visited websites, including advertisements and resources on these websites, websites logged in, employers, schools, or anyone who manages the network used by the user, and the Internet service provider.

▲Image from: Google

In other words, if the user agrees to the use of cookies by the visited website, since Google browser does not prohibit third parties from using cookies, Google can still "properly" obtain the user's browsing data. Websites can also use Google's technical monitoring methods to obtain user information that visits its website.

The plaintiff in the above-mentioned case also mentioned that if the website wants to obtain the user data collected by Google, it also needs to spend money to upgrade, which is also one of Google's sources of income.

From this point of view, Google’s incognito mode can be regarded as a "word game" with users taking advantage of the information gap. Many users do not carefully review the relevant rules when authorizing devices or software. Users think the incognito mode Downloading can eliminate your own browsing traces, but Google actually only erases some traces that will be stored locally. The incognito mode is only "incognito" for users, which is a bit of forcing users to "cover their ears and steal the bells".

▲Image from: Google

In today’s Internet age, user privacy and data have become tools for service providers to profit in the digital advertising market. However, people are increasingly paying attention to online privacy and security, which means that Internet service providers such as Google must change the existing ones. Mode, this group litigation is an example.

It is understood that Google intends to phase out third-party cookies within a few years, and launch a "privacy sandbox" plan, hoping to use massive amounts of anonymously processed massive data to classify user groups, and then provide the classified user group information to Of advertisers, taking into account the protection of user privacy and the marketing of advertisers.

Although there is no more concrete progress on this plan at present, there is still a long way to go in the lawsuit between users and Google, but it is hoped that major Internet service providers can smoothly change their advertising models in the future. As for the present, to ensure the security of online privacy, I am afraid that users still need to bear more costs.

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