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Google Chrome Canary Revamps Incognito Mode Description post privacy lawsuit settlement

The update is currently limited to the Canary browser and the changes with Incognito mode browsing are yet to reflect on Google Chrome.

Google Chrome Canary, Google’s browser for developers, has recently updated the description of its incognito mode to reflect more details about how user data is used. The updated description states that using the Incognito mode doesn’t change how data is collected by websites you visit and the services they use, including Google. The update is currently limited to the Canary browser and the changes with Incognito mode browsing are yet to reflect on Google Chrome.

This comes after the company agreed to settle a lawsuit that claimed that Google had tracked users and misled them about Google Chrome’s privacy protections earlier this month. This lawsuit was filed in 2020 by three California residents and alleged that Google continued to track users in Incognito mode when they visited a website that uses Google Analytics or Google Ad Manager. This, the lawsuit claimed, was done by collecting the address, browser, and device information, and the webpage content that the consumer is looking at. Speaking to the Verge, a Google spokesperson said that this update would provide users with even more information about the Incognito Mode, adding that the company is pleased to have resolved this case.

Why the update matters:

This change is important because the description had been a major point of contention during the lawsuit. The opposing party claimed that Google’s previous description was an enforceable promise not to collect, track, and use their private browsing activity. They stated that the description omitted Google from the list of entities that a user’s data might be visible to when using the incognito mode. Google, on the other hand, pointed the court to the “learn more” button at the end of the description, stating that in the article attached to it, Google informs users that it does not prevent third-party websites from serving ads to users based on Incognito browsing sessions. This statement did not change the court’s analysis because even in the article Google doesn’t tell the users that their activity is visible to Google which was the key issue.

Old vs new description:

                  The description currently in place on the Incognito mode in the Canary browser

                                                                           A screenshot of the old description

 

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