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Google Caught Spying on Your “Private” Browsing : Incognito Mode

Google is making changes to its incognito mode browsing feature, and the biggest one is that it’s going to be less incognito. The company is adding a disclaimer to the incognito mode home page that more clearly states what isn’t private, even when browsing incognito.

Google's Incognito Mode

This move comes after billion class action lawsuit settlement over allegations that Google collected user data in incognito mode without proper disclosure.

The lawsuit stated that although incognito mode appeared to provide a private surfing experience, Google actually collected information such as your IP address, device details and even browser history. In attempt to have the lawsuit dismissed Google argued that it has alerted consumers about websites that might track user activity.

But a judge determined that Google never made it clear to consumers that it was following them and gathering data. Furthermore, individuals may not consent to data gathering if they were unaware.

One google user asked about incognito

“I did a bunch of Google searches yesterday using incognito mode on my Chromebook. I was a bit dismayed to find all those search queries today on Google (in the drop down box) while using my phone. Doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose of using incognito mode? Am I missing something here?”

Then public replied in comments that

Respondent – If you want to do some searches “unrecorded” then open an incognito window and do the searches without signing in to Google.

But this is not 100% true. Websites typically use cookies to track visitors by storing information on their hard drives. Cookies are typically used to keep track of a user’s recurring visits and create a profile that is used to display advertisements. Your data is tracked in incognito mode in the same manner as it is in regular mode. According to Olejnik, “the distinction is that trackers are impossible to link a “private browsing” session with the “regular session” under normal conditions. “This implies that, in theory, nothing should remain after the user closes the browser window.”

Even said, this doesn’t imply that using Chrome’s Incognito Mode will be a more secure option for browsing anonymously. In a study comparing the privacy modes of several browsers, Newcastle University lecturer in data science Matthew Forshaw discovered that many of the browsers’ assertions were untrue.

What’s changing?

The new disclaimer will state that incognito mode doesn’t:

  • Prevent websites and services you use from collecting your data. Websites can still track your activity using cookies and other methods, even if you’re incognito.
  • Hide your activity from your internet service provider (ISP). Your ISP can still see your browsing history, even if you’re incognito.
  • Protect your activity from other people using the same device. Your browsing history and cookies are not saved on the device, but other users might be able to see them if they have access to your device.

What incognito mode is still good for:

  • Keeping your browsing history private from other people using the same device.
  • Preventing certain websites or extensions from tracking your activity across different browsing sessions.
  • Signing in to multiple accounts on the same website without them interfering with each other.

Overall, the update is a step towards greater transparency about the limitations of incognito mode. While it still offers some privacy benefits, users should be aware that it’s not a fool proof way to keep their browsing activity hidden.

Here are some additional tips for protecting your privacy online:

  • Use a privacy-focused browser, such as DuckDuckGo or Firefox.
  • Use a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt your traffic.
  • Be careful about what information you share online.
  • Be wary of phishing scams.

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Rosalyn R Kizerhttp://newsy5.com
Meet Rosalyn R Kizer, our tech expert at Newsy5! She's the brain behind our technology section, decoding the latest tech stuff for you. With a love for all things innovative, Rosalyn keeps you in the loop about the coolest tech trends. Get ready to explore the digital world with Rosalyn R Kizer, your tech guide at Newsy5!

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