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Google CEO sued for misdescribing Incognito mode in Chrome


American multinational technology company Google logo seen at Googleplex, the corporate headquarters complex of Google and its parent company Alphabet Inc.Alex Tai | SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images

Google CEO Sundar Pichai received a warning in 2019 that labeling ‘Incognito mode’ in its browser as ‘private’ is misleading.

However, the company did not change its course, as Pichai said he doesn’t want the feature “under the spotlight.”

“The filing mischaracterizes emails referencing unrelated second and third-hand accounts,” said José Castañeda, Google spokesperson.

Alphabet Inc’s unit’s privacy disclosures have created supervisory and legal scrutiny about surveillance in recent years.

Additionally, it has raised the already growing public concern.

Users sued Google last June, saying the latter illegally tracked their traffic when they were using incognito mode in Chrome.

However, the company said it clarifies that Incognito only prevents saving data on the user’s device, and is fighting the lawsuit.

The Users’ lawyers said they “anticipate seeing to depose” Pichai and Google Cheif Marketing Officer, Lorraine Twohill.

The lawyers wrote this in an update on the trial preparations, which they filed on Thursday in the US district court.

Google under the spotlight

The lawyers cited Google documents and said that Pichai had been informed in 2019 that Incognito should not be labeled as private.

They added that he knew the risk of misconceptions rising over the protection ‘Incognito mode’ offers.

They continued that Pichai decided to continue with the mislabeling because he wants the issue out of the spotlight.

Castañeda said the company’s teams frequently discuss methods to improve the service’s built-in privacy controls.

Google’s lawyers said they would fight the effort to depose Pichai and Twohill.

Last month, the accusers deposed Brian Rakowski, Google’s vice president, whom the filing describes as “the father of Incognito.”

According to the accusers, he said although Google states Incognito is private, users’ expectations might not match up with reality.

However, Google’s attorneys objected to the accusers’ summary, as it withheld crucial information.

They wrote that Rakowski said that the terms private, anonymous and invisible are very helpful in explaining the Incognito mode.

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