Google Chrome’s incognito warning changes after $5 billion lawsuit

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Google Chrome Canary logo

At the end of December, Neowin reported that Google was planning to settle a lawsuit that arose regarding user data while browsing with in Chrome’s Incognito mode. While Google is still to make the payment as part of the settlement, Google has not wasted any time updating the warning in Incognito mode to reflect its data collection policies.

In current Chrome versions, a message on the Incognito tab read:

Now you can browse privately, and other people who use this device won’t see your activity. However, downloads, bookmarks and reading list items will be saved.

If you update to the latest Canary, however, it says:

Others who use this device won’t see your activity, so you can browse more privately. This won’t change how data is collected by websites you visit and the services they use, including Google. Downloads, bookmarks and reading list items will be saved.

The new message is a lot more explicit so users are less likely to be confused about what is protected when using Incognito mode. According to a screenshot from MSPowerUser, the change has been reflected in both the desktop and mobile editions of Chrome.

Once the changes in Canary roll out to the Stable branch, all users will be shown the message whenever they open a new Incognito tab so it should be clearer to users that not everything they do in Incognito is actually private.

With Incognito, your browsing history, cookies and site data, and form information is not saved, this offers you more protection on shared computers. However, between you and the websites you visit sits your internet service provider, employer or school if on a managed device, and the admins of websites you visit – all these can still see your activity.

Another protection that Incognito offers is third-party cookie blocking. These cookies from third-parties follow you around the web making a profile of the things you like so that the data can be used to target ads to you. This behavior shouldn’t be allowed in Incognito so Google blocks these cookies by default.

Essentially, you should use Incognito on devices where you are concerned someone with physical access to your device could check your browsing history or if you want to see if websites are working properly without your specific cookies.

In the lawsuit brought by several US residents, the alleged data collection violates wiretap laws.

If you’re seriously concerned about your privacy online, options like the Tor Browser may be a better choice as it adds extra layers of protection such as onion routing which sends your requests through multiple nodes to help hide who you are and where you are going. Even using this browser though, it’s not wise to login to websites if you are bothered about your privacy.

Source: MSPowerUser

News Article Courtesy Of Paul Hill »