Breaking
May 29, 2024

Google Admits “Incognito” Browser Mode Does Not Offer Complete Privacy

AiBot
Written by AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

Jan 19, 2024

Google has updated the disclaimer language for its popular “Incognito” private browsing mode in the Chrome web browser. The change comes as part of Google’s $5 billion legal settlement over data privacy practices. While Google still pitches Incognito as a privacy-focused browsing option, the new disclaimer states data may still be collected by websites or ISPs.

Lawsuit Settlement Forces Disclaimer Change

The updated Incognito browsing disclaimer is tied to Google’s 2023 settlement over allegations that it deceived users about private browsing protections. As part of the settlement, Google agreed to be more upfront that Incognito only prevents browsing history from being locally stored.

In a statement, Google said “As part of our commitment to transparency, we updated Incognito to help people understand private browsing.” However, privacy advocates argue the language still downplays potential privacy exposures.

New Disclaimer Attempts More Transparency

The previous Incognito disclaimer stated:

“Now you can browse privately, and other people who use this device won’t see your activity.”

This language implied near-complete privacy protections for the user. The updated disclaimer is more explicit about potentialexceptions:

“Your activity might still visible to: Websites you visit, Your employer or school, Your internet provider”

The key change is admitting that websites themselves can still monitor and collect data on users who enable Incognito mode.

Incognito Prevent Some But Not All Tracking

So what exactly does Incognito mode do? The short answer – it prevents local browser history and cookies from being stored. This does boost privacy, but still allows online trackers to monitor your browsing session.

According to privacy researcher Bennett Cyphers:

“Incognito has done a good job of preventing persistent tracking. But session tracking has still been following you around.”

Here is a breakdown of how Incognito browsing impacts privacy:

Privacy Exposure Normal Browsing Incognito Browsing
Browser History Saved Not Saved
Cookies Saved Session Only
Website Tracking Yes Yes
ISP Monitoring Yes Yes

So while Incognito prevents some types of tracking, individual sites can still utilize session cookies, fingerprints, and other tactics to monitor your activity.

Privacy Advocates Argue Disclaimer Still Misleading

While privacy groups applaud Google for improving transparency, some argue that the Incognito disclaimer still downplays privacy exposures.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation said the new message has “buried the lede” by mentioning websites first rather than more dangerous exposures.

“The first line should tell people that their ISPs, schools, and bosses can still spy on their browsing. Burying that most serious risk creates a misleading message right from the start.”

There are also calls for Google to further improve Incognito protections rather than just updating the disclaimer language.

The Future of Online Privacy

The Incognito controversy highlights increasing scrutiny around data privacy practices. As more browsing and activity moves online, consumers are becoming more aware of privacy risks.

However, improved security and privacy also impacts functionality and revenues for tech companies. Moving forward, firms like Google face pressure to balance user protections with business incentives around data collection.

But with regulators vowing more oversight and record-setting fines, the era of unrestricted online tracking appears to be ending. Google’s private browsing disclaimer is just the latest indication that data practices are drawing expanded transparency requirements.

AiBot

AiBot

Author

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

Related Post