Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Judge Says $5 Billion Lawsuit Can Proceed Against Google for Chrome’s Incognito Mode

Malathi Nayak and Joel Rosenblatt, Bloomberg:

Google failed to kill a lawsuit alleging that it secretly scoops up troves of internet data even if users browse in “Incognito” mode to keep their search activity private.

The consumers who filed the case as a class action alleged that even when they turn off data collection in Chrome, other Google tools used by websites end up amassing their personal information. A federal judge on Friday denied the Alphabet Inc. unit’s initial request to throw out the case.

“The court concludes that Google did not notify users that Google engages in the alleged data collection while the user is in private browsing mode,” U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, wrote in her ruling.

I stand by what I wrote in June: this is a silly lawsuit in part because Chrome does inform users that Incognito mode does not prevent website tracking. However, I find it an amusing consequence of Google’s mission to become the entire infrastructure of the internet. If Google did not have its own browser or its business model did not depend on mass user surveillance, this lawsuit would make no sense. But because they do both, it kind of makes a little sense, even though it is ultimately ridiculous.