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Google to delete private browsing data

Google to delete private browsing data


Incognito mode isn't as private as some people think (Getty)

Google plans to delete billions of records it collected about users using the Chrome browser's incognito mode.

The move was announced to resolve an estimated $5 billion class-action lawsuit alleging that the company secretly tracked the internet usage of people who were supposedly browsing privately. Although data collection is turned off in Chrome's incognito mode, his other Google advertising tools still collect data, the complaint alleges.

The plaintiffs allege that this allows Google to learn about their friends who are searching online, their favorite foods, hobbies, shopping habits, and “the most intimate and potentially embarrassing things” that Google can do “inexplicably” It claims to have become a treasure trove of information.

Google spokesperson Jose Castaneda said in a statement: “We have always believed this lawsuit was pointless, so we are pleased to have settled it.” When you use Incognito mode, we do not associate any data with you. We are happy to delete obsolete technical data that is not associated with an individual and is not used for any form of personalization.

The settlement does not include any payments, but instead allows individual users to file their own lawsuits in U.S. state courts, with about 50 people believed to have already filed suit.

This lawsuit highlights the fact that incognito or private modes in browsers are not as “private” as many people believe.

What actually changes?

Plaintiffs in the case argue that the settlement will force the tech giants to be more honest about the data they collect.

Google plans to delete all secret data collected by December 2023, at which point Google has renewed its contract.

This includes “billions of event-level data records reflecting class members' private browsing activity.”

This data will be deleted for all users, so you don't need to do anything.

In the future, Google will also anonymize stored private browsing data, including by partially anonymizing IP addresses.

Google headquarters in Seattle (Getty)

The message that appears at the start of every incognito session has also changed to explain that data will be collected.

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Google should also allow Incognito mode users to block third-party cookies for the next five years (cookies can be used to track users online).

The court filing reads: This settlement requires powerful technology companies to control how they collect and use user data, as well as to delete collected data. This is a historic step in requiring users to be honest with themselves about how they will fix their problems.

So what does incognito mode actually do?

Contrary to what many people believe, Incognito mode doesn't make you completely anonymous. It just means that your browsing activity won't be saved on that machine.

Therefore, your history, cookies, site data, usernames and passwords are not stored on that specific device.

Browser extensions are also disabled by default, so they don't store your data either (though you can manually enable them again).

This means that other people using your machine cannot see the sites you visit or your saved login information.

By default, Incognito mode also signs you out of other accounts, but if you sign in to your Gmail account (for example), your browsing data will be saved in that account.

When you create an account on a website or log in to a website, Incognito mode does not provide your privacy.

But there are many people who can see exactly what you're doing in Incognito mode, including your ISP (if you're browsing from home), your employer (if you're browsing from work), and the government. Masu.

Other websites can see what you're doing because your Internet address (IP address) is fully visible to the sites you visit.

Websites can also detect your location based on your Internet address and can track you using any site.

Software such as parental monitoring software monitors your browsing, even in incognito mode.

Essentially, incognito browsing makes you “private” on the specific machine you're using, but still allows you to be visible online.

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