A judge in California ruled Friday that Google has to face a class action lawsuit that claims the search giant secretly collects data from users even when they’re using its private “Incognito” mode, Bloomberg reported.
Three users filed a complaint last June alleging Google has a “pervasive data tracking business,” and its tracking persists even if users take steps to protect their private information, such as using incognito mode in Chrome, or private browsing in Safari and other browsers. The lawsuit seeks at least $5 billion.
Google had sought to have the case thrown out, but US District Judge Lucy Koh wrote in her ruling that the company “did not notify users that Google engages in the alleged data collection while the user is in private browsing mode.”
The company said in a court filing that it makes clear to users “that ‘Incognito’ does not mean ‘invisible,’ and that the user’s activity during that session may be visible to websites they visit, and any third-party analytics or ads services the visited websites use.”
Google said earlier this year it is phasing out third-party tracking cookies, and says it doesn’t plan to replace the cookies with something that may be as invasive even though it will affect the company’s advertising business.
Google did not immediately reply to a request for comment Saturday.