Who can see my Chromes incognito story

Tracking: Google Chrome: Incognito mode is not as anonymous as you think

A lawsuit accuses Google of espionage. The accusation: The group should monitor users even if they actually feel unobserved. Because Google Chrome's anonymous browsing is anything but that.

© Getty Images / PeopleImages When we open the incognito window, we're not as anonymous as we'd like to think

The internet corporations monitor our steps, most users should be aware of that. Whether the surfing history, the behavior on a website or the search for a new kitchen appliance: Everything is stored in some form by some group and processed for advertising or analysis purposes. Even if we use the anonymous mode of the browser.

Many people are not even aware of this, argues a lawsuit against Google. She accuses the company of violating the wiretapping laws under California law. Most users would expect that when the incognito mode is switched on, monitoring by the company will also be prevented. But that's not the case with Google's Chrome browser.

Google reads too

In fact, this is not explicitly stated anywhere, Google clarifies in a statement. If you switch on the anonymous mode, the browser history, the cookies from websites and data entered in forms would not be saved, you learn when you open an incognito window. Furthermore, there is a note that the websites visited, the employer or the Internet provider can certainly follow what is being done on the Internet.

But the list is not exhaustive. On the one hand, there is of course Google itself. The company continues to track the user's preferences, search queries and contacts in anonymous mode. And websites that have been visited can also observe the behavior beyond their own site. Because although cookies do not survive closing the window, they remain active as long as the session is open. If a page sets a suitable cookie, which it can also query on other pages, it is entirely possible to track the same user across multiple pages.

The latter should finally be fixed soon. In mid-May, Google presented some new security functions for Chrome, one of the most important was certainly the option to completely suppress the setting of cookies in anonymous mode. When exactly the feature will come has not yet been announced. It shouldn't apply to Google anyway. The group currently has no plans to refrain from tracking in incognito mode.

How much do users really know?

Nevertheless, the group defends itself against the allegations. "The incognito mode in Chrome allows users to surf the Internet without saving these activities in the browser or the device," said a Google spokesman for the New York Times. "Every time we open an incognito tab, we emphasize that web pages could potentially save information about their activities."

The lawsuit now doubts this clarity. Users have "reasonable expectations" that their activities will not be monitored, she claims. Then Google would violate existing California law, so the argumentation. This provides that communication can only be monitored with the consent of the user. Google would deliberately trick customers into finding out "the most intimate and potentially embarrassing things" about its users. Therefore, the three plaintiffs are demanding $ 5,000 in damages for each affected user. Since it could affect millions of users, they assume a compensation payment of up to 5 billion dollars. It remains to be seen whether the group will have to pay.

So you really surf anonymously

If you really don't want to leave any traces on the internet, you shouldn't rely on incognito mode and certainly not on Google Chrome. An alternative is the well-known TOR browser, but its use is quite complex. The Epic browser is easier to use and quite fast. Like Chrome, it is based on the Chromium substructure, but prevents most of the tracking functions ex works. Apple's Safari also protects users from some tracking forms, but only deletes cookies in anonymous mode when the window is closed. If you also want to lock out the Internet provider, you should also use a proxy or VPN service.

Source:New York Times, Reuters

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