Google, owned by parent Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), is facing a US$5bn class action lawsuit in the US after the search engine giant was accused of invading the privacy of users by tracking their activity through browsers set to private mode.
In a complaint filed to the federal court in San Jose, California earlier this week, Alphabet is accused of gathering data through its various analytics and ad management applications on users’ browsing activity despite them using Google’s ‘Incognito’ private mode.
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The lawsuit is seeking around US$5,000 per user for violations of federal wiretapping and California’s privacy laws, with the complaint proposing a class of millions of users that have used Incognito mode since June 1 2016.
According to a Reuters report, the complaint alleges Google “cannot continue to engage in the covert and unauthorized data collection from virtually every American with a computer or phone”, potentially accessing even the “most intimate and potentially embarrassing things” they search for online.
A spokesman for Google said the company will defend the allegations, saying every time an Incognito tab is opened the company will "clearly state" that websites may be able to collect data on user activity.