Google Sued For $5 Billion For Violating Users’ Privacy

( Google is facing a $5 billion class action lawsuit in the United States for tracking “private” internet usage.

According to Reuters, which obtained a copy of a complaint filed in federal court in San Jose, California, the lawsuit seeks at least $5 billion from Alphabet Inc — the parent company of Google — for collecting information about what people are viewing online as well as where they browse the internet, even when using Google’s Incognito mode.

By using Google Ad Manager, Google Analytics and other apps and plug-ins, Google is collecting data on people’s browsing information, according to the complaint. The lawsuit claims Google is doing this through smartphone apps, too, even when users aren’t clicking on adds that are supported by Google.

Google then uses this information to learn about a user’s shopping habits, favorite foods, hobbies, friends and “the most intimate and potentially embarrassing things” they search online for.

According to the complaint, Google “cannot continue to engage in the covert and unauthorized data collection from virtually every American with a computer or phone.”

The complaint Reuters obtained says the proposed class action suit would potentially include “millions” of Google users who browsed the internet in Google’s “private” mode since June 1, 2016. The lawsuit is seeking damages of at least $5,000 per user. It claims Google violated privacy laws in California as well as federal wiretapping laws.

For its part, Google plans to defend itself “vigorously” against these new claims, according to a spokesman for the company, Jose Castaneda. He said:

“As we clearly state each time you open a new incognito tab, websites might be able to collect information about your browsing activity.”

Some users have taken comfort in browsing the internet in private mode on Google and other browsers, seeing as a safe haven. However, experts in computer security have often said it’s possible for Google and others in the industry to augment user profiles and tack their identities across different internet browsing modes. They could have the ability to combine this data from regular internet browsing and private browsing.

This isn’t the only litigation Google has had to face over the years. In fact, Mark Brnovich, the attorney general of Arizona, sued the company recently. He claimed that Google set up Android, its operating system for smartphones, “in a way that enriched its advertising empire and deceived device owners about the protections actually afforded to their personal data.”

Along with Apple, Google is also getting some flack for its rollout of its new operating system that has the built-in ability to track users for coronavirus contact tracing apps. According to a May ABC News report:

“Together, the tech giants rolled out a COVID-19 exposure notification system, essentially a unified programming interface that will allow public health departments to create their own contact tracing applications.

“The companies said that digital contact tracing is meant to augment traditional human-to-human tracing, not replace it. Digital contact tracing is faster than traditional tracing, requires fewer resources and since it doesn’t rely on human memory, can make it easier to track exposure in crowded spaces, or contact with strangers.”