Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
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  • Google is being sued for gathering data from people using its "Incognito" browsing mode on Chrome.
  • The lawsuit alleges Google deliberately misleads users by saying its browser is private.
  • A Google spokesman pointed out it clearly alerts users to the fact their data may be visible to third parties when browsing in incognito mode.
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Google was hit by a class-action lawsuit in California on Tuesday which alleged the company continues to track the internet activity of Chrome browser users even when they're in "Incognito" mode.

When you open a Google Chrome window in incognito mode, the program does not save your search history, but analytics data is still sent to the websites you visit via Google Analytics and Google Ad Manager. When you open an Incognito window, the browser tells you your data may still be visible to "websites you visit," "your employer or school," and "your Internet service provider."

Here's what it looks like when you open up a tab:

This page appears when you open a Chrome Incognito window.
The lawsuit was filed by law firm Boies Schiller & Flexner, and seeks a minimum of $5 billion (R84 million) in damages on the grounds that Google's presentation of incognito mode on Chrome "intentionally deceive[s] consumers."

Google asserts that it is upfront with its users that their data from browsing incognito might be sent to third parties.

"We strongly dispute these claims and we will defend ourselves vigorously against them," a Google spokesman told Business Insider.

"Incognito mode in Chrome gives you the choice to browse the internet without your activity being saved to your browser or device. As we clearly state each time you open a new incognito tab, websites might be able to collect information about your browsing activity during your session," he added.

The lawsuit currently has three plaintiffs attached to it, and is seeking a minimum of $5,000 (R84,000) per plaintiff.

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