The Stealth Mode Myth Debunked

If you still hold this idea Google Chrome’s “Incognito Mode” is a good way Protect your online privacynow is a good time to stop.

Google has reportedly agreed to delete “billions of data records” the company collected when users browsed the web using Incognito mode Documents filed in federal court The agreement, part of a class-action settlement filed in 2020, caps years of revelations about Google practices that revealed how much data the tech giant stole from users — even when they were in private browsing mode .

Under the terms of the settlement, Google must further update the incognito mode “startup page” that appears every time you open an incognito mode Chrome window. Previously updated in JanuaryThe Incognito launch page will clearly state that Google collects data from third-party websites “regardless of which browsing or browser mode you use” and stipulates that “third-party websites and applications integrated with our services may still share information with Google.” ” and other changes. Details about Google’s private browsing data collection must also appear in the company’s privacy policy.

In addition, some data previously collected by Google about invisible users will also be deleted, including “private browsing data” that is “more than nine months old” from the date Google signed the settlement term sheet in December last year as data collected in December 2023. Browse your profile privately. However, some documents related to Google’s data collection methods in the case remain sealed, making it difficult to assess the thoroughness of the removal process.

Google spokesman Jose Castaneda said in a statement that the company “is pleased to delete old technical data that is not personally associated and has never been used for any form of personalization.” Cass Taneda also noted that the company will now pay “zero” dollars as part of a settlement after previously facing a $5 billion fine.

Other steps Google must take include continuing to “block third-party cookies in incognito mode for five years,” partially modifying IP addresses to prevent re-identification of anonymous user data, and removing certain header information that can currently be used to identify users in incognito mode. is active.

The data removal portion of the settlement follows preemptive changes to Google’s Incognito Mode data collection and the way it describes Incognito Mode’s functionality.Google has been phasing out third-party cookies for nearly four years, and the company explain It plans to go into complete lockdown by the end of 2024. Google also Updated Chrome’s incognito mode “startup page” In January, in weaker language, it was suggested that using incognito mode was not “private,” but simply “more private” than not using it.

The settlement’s relief is strictly “injunctive,” meaning its core purpose is to end the Google activities that the defendants claim are illegal. The settlement agreement does not exclude any future claims –wall street journal Report Plaintiffs filed at least 50 such lawsuits in California on Monday, although defendants noted that it is much more difficult to obtain monetary relief in privacy cases. Lawyers for the defendants believe it is important to make changes to Google now that will provide the greatest, most immediate benefit to the greatest number of users.

Critics of Incognito, Chrome’s main feature since 2008, say that at best it offers protection in the face of Sophisticated business surveillance At worst, they say, the feature could lull people into a false sense of security, helping companies like Google passively monitor millions of users who are tricked into thinking they’re browsing alone. .

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