What the Google Data Lawsuit Means for You & How to Browse More Privately

What the Google Data Lawsuit Means for You & How to Browse More Privately


Apr 4, 2024
Many of us rely on incognito mode, or private browsing, to explore the internet with a perceived layer of privacy. But a 2020 lawsuit against Google challenged this perception. Let’s delve into the details of the lawsuit, the settlement, and what it means for your online privacy.

The Lawsuit: Unmasking Incognito

The lawsuit, filed in 2020, claimed Google continued to collect user data even when browsing in incognito mode. This data collection allegedly involved:
  • Browsing history: The websites you visit.
  • Search queries: What you search for on Google or the address bar.
  • Google account information: If you’re signed into a Google account while using incognito mode, some data might still be linked to you.
The lawsuit argued that this data collection went against Google’s claims about incognito mode being a private browsing experience.

The Settlement: Shedding Light on Data Practices

In 2022, Google settled the lawsuit. While they admitted no wrongdoing, the settlement included key points:

Data Deletion

Google agreed to delete billions of data records collected from users in incognito mode.


Google is required to provide clearer explanations about what data is collected and how it’s used in incognito mode.

Third-Party Cookies

For five years, incognito mode will block third-party cookies by default. These cookies track your browsing activity across different websites and are often used for targeted advertising. This settlement doesn’t mean Google can’t collect any data in incognito mode. They can still collect information for essential functionality, like remembering zoom settings for websites. However, the settlement highlights the importance of user privacy and puts pressure on Google to be more transparent about its data collection practices.

What Does This Mean for You?

While the settlement is a step forward for online privacy, it’s important to remember that incognito mode isn’t foolproof. Here’s what you should know:

Incognito Mode Doesn’t Hide Everything

Your browsing activity might still be visible to your internet service provider (ISP), websites you visit, and your employer or school if you’re on their network.

Focus on Strong Passwords

Incognito mode doesn’t protect you from online scams or malware. Maintain strong passwords and be cautious when entering sensitive information on websites.

Consider Alternatives

For truly private browsing, explore tools like the Tor network or privacy-focused browsers.

The Takeaway

The Google incognito mode lawsuit serves as a reminder:
  • Be aware of how your data is collected online.
  • Read privacy policies before using any service.
  • Utilize privacy-enhancing tools when needed.
By staying informed and taking proactive steps, you can navigate the digital world with more control over your online privacy.

Beyond Incognito: Taking Control of Your Online Privacy

While incognito mode offers some benefits, it’s not a silver bullet for online privacy. Here are some additional tips to consider:

Manage Your Browser Settings

Most browsers allow you to adjust privacy settings like blocking cookies or clearing browsing data regularly.

Use Privacy Extensions

Consider browser extensions that block trackers or enhance privacy features.

Be Mindful of Social Media Sharing

Review your privacy settings on social media platforms and limit the information you share publicly.

Utilize Two-Factor Authentication

Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) on your accounts for an extra layer of security.

Stay Informed

Keep yourself updated on data privacy issues and new tools available to protect your information. By implementing these practices alongside a mindful approach to browsing, you can build a stronger foundation for online privacy.

Frequently Asked Questions?

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