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Report: Google Collects Data on Users in Private ‘Incognito Mode’

Google is increasingly similar to Big Brother's Oceania in 1984
Jeremie Lederman/ledermanstudio.com

New reports out last week claim that the Google Chrome web browser collects data on users even when they are in the private “incognito mode.”

A researcher from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, uncovered last week that Google had access to data for users opting to use the private browsing mode on the Google Chrome web browser. “If you don’t want Google Chrome to remember your activity, you can browse the web privately in Incognito mode,” a Google Chrome help page reads. But apparently, that doesn’t mean that Google can’t obtain the data from private browsing sessions.

“While such data is collected with user-anonymous identifiers, Google has the ability to connect this collected information with a user’s personal credentials stored in their Google Account,” the Vanderbilt researcher wrote in the report.

More than half of all internet users use the Google Chrome browser. Chrome has been installed on over 2 billion machines, across both desktop, laptop, and mobile devices.

Reports from earlier in August revealed that Google was tracking all user’s locations even after users had turned the location tracking feature off. According to the Associated Press, who launched an investigation into the tracking, computer scientists “found that many Google services on Android devices and iPhones store your location data even if you’ve used a privacy setting that says it will prevent Google from doing so.”

A Google spokesperson gave a non-answer when asked about user tracking. “There are a number of different ways that Google may use location to improve people’s experience, including: Location, History, Web and App Activity, and through device-level Location Services,” the spokesperson said. “We provide clear descriptions of these tools, and robust controls so people can turn them on or off, and delete their histories at any time.”

New browsers like Brave are attempting to fill the market gap by providing users with a totally private web browsing experience. It remains unclear whether or not Google will adjust their Chrome product to offer their users more privacy.

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