Google Faces Incognito Lawsuit With COVID-19 Tracking To Come

Editor’s Note: The latest on Google’s lawsuit as COVID-19 tracking may start.

Google faced a class-action lawsuit last month for tracking people’s data while using the Chrome browser’s Incognito mode. Law firm Boies Schiller Flexner filed the complaint on behalf of people who used the privacy mode in the past four years.

Covid-19 tracking - incognito july 2020Photo Credit: ShutterstockThe firm seeks at least US $5,000 in damages for each of millions of Google users who have used the Internet in private mode since July 1st, 2016. “Google tracks and collects consumers’ history and other Web activity no matter what safeguards consumers undertake to protect their data privacy,” it states. Google promises consumers that they can control what information is shared with Google, and browse the Web privately. Google recommends that its consumers launch a browser in private browsing mode to prevent information from being shared.

When consumers open a new Incognito tab, a notice tells them their activity might still be visible to websites they visit, their employer or school, and their ISP. Third-party websites do use Google Analytics for collecting and analyzing data when visitors are in Incognito mode. Visitors can use the Google Analytics browser extension opt-out feature to restrict or terminate this option.

Data collected through Google Analytics belong to the website owner, who then can decide whether to share it with Google. Passing personally identifiable information through Google Analytics is prohibited. The average consumer “doesn’t want privacy,” Miller maintained. “They want to be served up a more relevant and personalized engagement; when they need it most.”

Google has had lawsuits and fines for tracing consumers in the past. The Federal Trade Commission imposed a $190 million fee for tracking children’s searches. Google tracks user activity on smart home devices and smartwatches at limited capabilities. Yet, concerns have been raised over the potential of APIs jointly developing with Apple for COVID-19 tracing and identifying.

Following the filing of the Incognito lawsuit, more enforcement entities will move aggressively against Google. Fifty state attorneys general just last year requested antitrust investigations against Google, and are expected to file this summer; with the argument that the company monopolized online ads.

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