The Alphabet Ink unit states that activating Stealth Mode in Chrome, or “private browsing” in other browsers, means the company doesn’t remember your activity. But a judge with his history of working with Silicon Valley veterans expressed skepticism about whether Google is as accurate as it should be about the personal information users collect.
In a hearing, Thursday in San Jose, California, US District Judge Lucy Koh said she was “upset” by Google’s data collection practices in a class-action lawsuit that described the company’s private browsing promises as “ruse” Done and demanded $ 5,000 for damages. All those millions whose privacy has been compromised since June of 2016.
Failing Google’s effort to dismiss the suit, Koh said he found it “unusual” that the company would make an “extra effort” of data collection if it did not use the information to create user profiles or targeted advertisements.
Google has become a target of antitrust complaints in the last year filed by state and federal officials — as well as businesses — accusing it of abusing its dominance in digital advertising and online search. Koh has a deeper history with the company as a vocal critic of its privacy policies. She forced Google in one notable case to disclose its scanning of emails to build profiles and target advertising.
In this case, Google is accused of relying on pieces of its code within websites that use its analytics and advertising services to scrape users’ supposedly private browsing history and send copies of it to Google’s servers.
Google says the private browsing mode gives users more control of their data, with lawyer Amanda Bonn telling users that Koh pointed out. In actuality, “Google is saying that it is basically very little you can do to prevent your data from being collected, and consider what you should do to us,” Bonn said.
Another lawyer for Google, Stephen Broome, said that website owner who contracts with the company to use their analytics or other services are well aware of the data collection described in the suit.
Broome’s effort to address privacy concerns indicated that the federal court system’s own website uses Google services that end up backfiring.
The judge sought clarification about “what Google actually does”, saying that visitors to the court’s website are inadvertently giving information to the company.
Koh told the company’s lawyers, “I want an announcement from Google about what information they are collecting on the court website to users and what they use it for.”