Google has been sued in the United States for allegations that it is illegally invading user privacy by tracking people even when they are in “private mode”.
The class action demands at least $ 5 billion (£ 4 billion) from Google and the owner Alphabet.
Many internet users assume that their search history is not tracked when they view privately, but Google says it is not.
The search engine denies that it is illegal and says that it is frank about the data it collects in this mode.
The proposed class action likely includes “millions” of Google users who have surfed the Internet privately since June 1, 2016, according to law firm Boies Schiller Flexner, who filed the lawsuit in court Tuesday federal government of San Jose, California.
Private browsing mode in Google’s Chrome browser gives users the choice to search the Internet without saving their activity in the browser or device. But visited websites can use tools like Google Analytics to track usage.
The lawsuit says Google “cannot continue to engage in the secret and unauthorized data collection of virtually all Americans with a computer or a phone.”
Vigorously denying these claims, Google spokesperson Jose Castaneda said, “As we make clear every time you open a new incognito tab, websites may be able to collect information about your activity. navigation ”.
The search engine says that collecting search history, even in private viewing mode, helps site owners “better assess the performance of their content, products, marketing and more.”
Although private browsing has been available from Google for some time, Boies Schiller Flexner said that it had recently decided to represent three complainants based in the United States.
“People around the world are increasingly aware (and concerned) that their personal communications are intercepted, collected, recorded or exploited for profit by the technology companies on which they depend,” said the report.
One option is for visitors to install the Google Analytics browser deactivation extension to deactivate measurement by Google Analytics, he said.