Google Sued Over Private Browsing

Found this absurd pending class-action lawsuit this morning via Linkedin news feeds.

Google has been sued in a proposed class-action lawsuit that alleges it violated wiretap laws by collecting information about user behavior on the internet without permission while users were in “private browsing,” or incognito mode.

Um…apparently these plaintiff’s don’t understand how “private browsing” or incognito mode is supposed to work. Simply put incognito mode prevents someone else who is also sharing the same device (PC, phone, tablet, etc.) as the user from being able to view your browsing/search history that occurred while in incognito mode. This is done by opening a new session isolated from the main browser of Chrome in which there are no previous search history, browsing history or cookies. When you are done with (close) the session all the associated search history, browsing history or cookies are deleted. It’s purpose and intent was never to prevent Google from “collecting information about user behavior on the internet”. Again, it is about not having certain sites that you don’t want others to know you were visiting from showing up in the history of that device without having to resort to deleting ALL your cookies and browsing history. If you have ever dealt with banking sites you know what a PITA it is to login after their cookies have been removed or using a different browser or computer.

Also incognito mode is also very useful when dealing with “stuck cookies”. This used to a very common problem with PHP My Admin several years ago where as you would try to log in to another database but the login would fail because of cookies. Switch to incognito mode and there would be no issue logging as there would not be any cookies currently associated to that site in that browsing session. Also useful if you have multiple profiles/login from a single site and you want to able to access more than one at the same time. You simply open incognito mode and login with the other profile. Some people use this as away to exploit media sites in the past that allowed you to view X number of free articles which they tracked via cookies. When users ran out of free views they’d simply go into private browsing and since the site could not find a cookie would assume it was a new user. Many of these sites have since fixed this exploit by detecting if the user is in private browsing mode. Again, nothing to do with blocking the collecting information about user behavior on the internet by Google.

I am surprised these plaintiffs are not trying to sue Safari, Mozilla (Firefox) or Microsoft (Internet Explorer/Edge/Brave) who have the same feature which works the same way in their browsers. In fact it was Safari who first to have this feature back in 2005 followed by Google then Mozilla. Furthermore, these plaintiffs are overlooking the fact too that private browsing or incognito mode DOES NOT prevent their ISP from collecting information about user behavior on the internet. Hate to break it to you people, but your ISP knows more about your behavior on the internet than Google or anyone else. And there is nothing you can do about that!