October 19, 2022

Why Incognito Mode May Not Be Private and What You Can Do About It

Your web browsing sessions on Google Chrome might not be as private as you think.

The Incognito mode, billed as a method of anonymous browsing, leaves a digital trail of users' data, according to a recent report. Google employees themselves are supposedly even complaining about privacy issues with the browser.

"Chrome's Incognito mode isn't truly private browsing," Mike Parkin, an engineer at cybersecurity firm Vulcan Cyber, told Lifewire in an email interview. "It just places some limits on what's stored and shared, and those limits aren't especially effective at protecting your privacy."

Not So Private?

The privacy claims behind the Google browser are now the subject of a class action lawsuit. Even Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has joined the growing chorus and argues Google's branding and messaging around Incognito are deceptive.

"Given Google's representations, a reasonable user would expect that turning a setting called "Location History" off means their location history is no longer tracked," Paxton wrote in a petition. "But even with Location History off, Google deceptively continues to track users' location history unless they successfully navigate a counterintuitive labyrinth of seemingly unrelated settings."

Google did not respond to a request by Lifewire for comment.

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