Google accused of illegally invading privacy, faces $5 billion lawsuit in US

Joanna Estrada
June 3, 2020

Google has been sued in the United States over claims it illegally invades the privacy of users by tracking people even when they are browsing in "private mode".

Google also violated a California law that requires the consent of all parties to read or learn the contents of private communication, alleged the lawsuit.

According to the complaint filed in the federal court in San Jose, California, Google gathers data through Google Analytics, Google Ad Manager and other applications and website plug-ins, including smartphone apps, regardless of whether users click on Google-supported ads.

It seeks damages per user of US$5,000 or three times actual damages, whichever is greater, for violations of federal wiretapping and California privacy laws.

Google is up front with consumers that whenever they opt for private browsing, other websites may still collect information, spokesman Jose Castaneda said.

"Incognito mode in Chrome gives you the choice to browse the internet without your activity being saved to your browser or device".

In the indictment, it was said, by the information about the browsing habits of users of Google could draw conclusions about friends, Hobbies, favorite food, shopping habits, even the "most intimate and potentially embarrassing things" that they were looking for users online. Majority discuss security and privacy.

What happens is, whenever a user access Chrome using the incognito or the private-browsing feature on, the company still tracks all the activities of the user and sell it to advertisers or publishers. This has helped Google amass a almost unending trove of data that could be stolen or hacked by governments and criminals, the consumers allege.

"Tracking on these sites is highly concentrated by a handful of major companies", said the researchers who identified 230 different companies and services tracking users in their sample.

A joint study from Microsoft, Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pennsylvania past year investigated 22,484 sex websites using a tool called "webXray" revealed that 93 per cent of pages track and leak users' data to third-party organisations.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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