A federal judge in San Jose has ordered Google to face a $5 billion lawsuit over tracking private internet use. The judge found that the Big Tech company failed to notify its users that their data was still being collected in Incognito mode in the Google Chrome web browser.
Users are given the impression that all of their information is held private when they use Chrome’s built-in so-called Incognito mode, which informs users that all information including browser history, cache, cookies, etc. will be deleted upon closing the browser.
The lawsuit, filed in June, alleges that Google violated wiretapping and privacy laws by continuing to "intercept, track, and collect communications" when Incognito mode was enabled in Chrome.
Google failed to win a dismissal of the lawsuit on Friday when U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh denied the company’s request for a dismissal, which seeks class action status, reports CNET.
"The court concludes that Google did not notify users that Google engages in the alleged data collection while the user is in private browsing mode," wrote the judge.
The judge’s ruling comes as Google and other Big Tech companies face intense scrutiny from lawmakers across the country over their censorship over political speech, as well as concerns over the data they collect from consumers without their knowledge. Google has taken the effort to begin phasing out third party cookies that track buying habits as users browse websites and target them with advertisements based on their activity.
The lawsuit seeks at least $5 billion from Google and its parent company Alphabet for collecting data through Google Analytics, Google Ad Manager, and a variety of other web applications, including mobile apps on its Android device and other platforms.
CNET reports that Google did not immediately respond to the request, but says that the company disputes the claims made in the lawsuit. Google says that users are informed that websites may be able to collect information about their browsing habits during the session.