Staying private online the primary concern of a lot of internet users. One of the ways to partially camouflage your online activities and protect your browsing data from prying eyes is turning on ‘private’ or ‘incognito’ mode found in all popular browsers. However, Google is under fire over claims of spying on users while they were browsing in Chrome’s Incognito mode.
Google Tracks User Data In Incognito Mode
By the end of last month, there was a lot of criticism aimed towards this IT giant. As it appears, despite promising people “private browsing” Google kept tracking user data even during their sessions in Chrome’s Incognito mode.
Incognito mode in Google Chrome is commonly being used by those of us who want to hide our online activity. However, according to the latest research, Google could keep tracking and recording our entire online behavior even when Incognito Mode was on. The scary part is that it could even match our activity without account information.
The study in question comes from the Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. The researchers tested numerous Incognito Mode use case scenarios and discovered that a problem appears in one specific situation.
In fact, when a user logs back into their Google account before they turn off Incognito Mode, Google is able to link their browsing history to their account retroactively. It appears that anonymous cookies are not so anonymous after all.
The author of the study, Douglas Schmidt, who is a professor of computer science at the university mentioned above said that we tend to underestimate the scale of the data Google collects. Thanks to the latest discoveries, it seems that Google’s ad server domains are able to serve us highly targeted ads, all thanks to Google’s data collection policy.
Google Denies Such Allegations
Soon after this giant faced accusations about data tracking in Incognito Mode, the officials addressed the public by saying that Google has nothing to do with it, and ‘Chrome users who decide to browse any online content while in the Incognito Mode can be assured that their browsing history is not stored or tracked’.
The spokesperson also added that Incognito Mode also doesn’t allow cookies to be stored. If you don’t know anything about cookies, this will suffice – they are very small but very powerful files that contain information on your browsing activity linked to your identity.
The spokesperson wanted to be very clear about the Google data collecting policy and added that what you do online can be traced back to your personal account if you started the browsing session logged into Google with your own credentials.
But, if you decide to go Incognito, all the cookies that you will receive are anonymous, meaning that they contain only the information associated with your browsing activity, but they can’t be linked to your own identity.
As you can see, while Google is trying to explain to us that our browsing history in the Incognito Mode cannot be traced back to us, it’s more than clear that it can. In fact, it’s technically possible to do it, and Google can easily retroactively link our “Incognito” browsing history to our accounts. This is all made possible by anonymous cookies, which can be easily linked back to your identity.
This leaves us with only one option. If you truly want to stay Incognito while using the Incognito Mode, you have to make sure that you have logged out of your Google account before activating it.
Google Remains Deeply Involved in the Data Gathering
We are aware that a huge portion of Google’s revenue comes from Google’s ads, which amounted to almost $95.3 billion in 2017. When we inspect the numbers closely, it’s clear that this accounts for 70.9% of the overall company’s revenues. To stay competitive in the online advertising businesses, Google has to enable the advertisers to launch highly targeted online ads.
To do so, Google has to track and store our browsing data. This is why we can easily say that the company remains deeply involved in the data gathering business. In fact, it’s only natural for them to try and extract as much data as possible.
Google Photos is a great example as the company has been able to turn this service into a powerful AI managed database for collecting information about your life. In fact, this is why more people are deleting their photos on Google Photos.