(CTN News) – In Chrome’s Incognito mode, Google has added a privacy disclaimer. A blurb now appears when users with an experimental version of Chrome open an Incognito window, stating which browsing data will not be saved and what information Google will still have access to.
According to MSPowerUser, the disclaimer states that others cannot view your activity on this device. Additionally, downloads, bookmarks, and reading list items will be stored.
As a result, websites will continue to collect and use data in the same way they do today, including Google.
A more ambiguous disclaimer appears in Chrome’s “old” disclaimer, which is still visible to most users today. As a result, you will be able to browse privately, and other people who use this device will not be able to observe your activity.
In spite of this, downloads, bookmarks, and reading list items will be retained.
The ambiguity of this statement is what led to Google being sued in 2020 for $5 billion in a class action lawsuit. The plaintiffs alleged that Incognito misled users into believing their web activity is truly private, when in fact, Incognito allows websites, internet service providers, and Google itself to track what users do on the web.
By gathering data from Incognito browsing sessions, plaintiffs’ lawyers argued that Google had violated federal and state wiretapping laws.
The company made every effort to resolve the lawsuit as quickly as possible. A federal judge rejected Google’s request to dismiss the complaint, stating that it had indeed notified users of Incognito’s confidentiality holes.
Google employees and executives were aware of Incognito’s shortcomings and viewed its “Spy Guy” logo as a liability in late 2022, according to court documents.
To avoid confusing users, the tech giant’s marketing chief even attempted to make Incognito “truly private.” However, their suggestion was ignored.
It is now Google that is paying the price. An agreement was reached in December 2023 for the company to pay out $5 billion in early 2024.
While a judge has until February 24 to approve the settlement, Google has already modified its Incognito greeting text to prevent similar complaints. In spite of the fact that the new disclaimer is currently only available on Canary, Google’s “early-release, experimental version of Chrome” designed for developers, it is very likely that it will be added to mainstream Chrome in the near future.