Eyes on you: The suit alleges that “Google tracks and collects consumer browsing history and other web activity data no matter what safeguards consumers undertake to protect their data privacy”, such as in the incognito mode and thereby gains “a complete, cradle-to-grave profile” of the users without their consent. Among other things, it accuses Google of “collecting, at minimum, the consumer’s IP address, browser and device information and the webpage content that the consumer is actually looking at”.
What’s incognito mode: Google’s incognito mode offers people the chance to keep their browsing history private, especially on shared devices, claiming that none of a user’s “browsing history, cookies and site data, or information entered in forms are saved” on the device. It also adds that even “Chrome doesn’t tell websites, including Google, when you’re browsing privately in Incognito mode”.
However…Google also cautions users that their browsing history even in incognito mode is still visible to their school, employer or their internet service provider. It also says that the incognito mode doesn’t “prevent the websites you visit from serving ads based on your activity during an incognito session”.
The billions: The petitioners however contend that not only is Google’s snooping in on their browsing history in incognito mode, but that the company was benefitting monetarily from this privacy breach. According to the petitioners, Google has collected and sold off its users’ personal information to third party advertisers — with data on web browsing histories fetching $52 per year as per a study cited in the suit, with the highest value reserved for details like Social Security Number, which is worth $240, while credit card details are worth $150.
The penalty: The petitioners say that since Google has violated the privacy of people numbering in multiples of million, each should receive more than $5,000 at the very least — which would make the minimum payout due $5 billion, if Google loses. However, considering that there are 1.5 billion active account users….you can do the math!