An amended lawsuit against Alphabet Inc’s Google has alleged that Google’s search engine collects data on users who think they can be anonymous if they use a “private browsing” mode, said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
In January, the state of Texas, Indiana, Washington State and the District of Columbia had filed separate lawsuits against Google in state courts over what they termed as deceptive location-tracking practices that invades users’ privacy.
Paxton’s filing adds Google’s Incognito mode to the lawsuit filed in January. Incognito mode or “private browsing” is a web browser function that Paxton said implies Google will not track search history or location activity.
The lawsuit said Google offers the option of “private browsing” that could include “viewing highly personal websites that might indicate, for example, their medical history, political persuasion, or sexual orientation. Or maybe they simply want to buy a surprise gift without the gift recipient being tipped off by a barrage of targeted ads.”
The lawsuit said “in reality, Google deceptively collects an array of personal data even when a user has engaged Incognito mode.”
Google has said, Paxton’s filing is again “based on inaccurate claims and outdated assertions about our settings. We have always built privacy features into our products and provided robust controls for location data. We strongly dispute these claims and will vigorously defend ourselves to set the record straight”.
Previously Paxton had alleged, Google misled consumers by continuing to track their location even when users sought to prevent it.
Google has a “Location History” setting and informs users if they turn it off “the places you go are no longer stored,” said Texas.
In January, an Arizona judge had ruled that allegations against Google’s deception of users with unclear smartphone location tracking settings should be weighed by a jury, refusing to toss out a lawsuit brought by the state’s attorney general.