Google Tweaks Chrome’s Incognito Warning Amid Lawsuit Allegations

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Google secretly changed the description of its private browsing function shortly after settling a lawsuit alleging the company tracked user activities while Chrome was in incognito mode.

The modification, identified by MSPowerUser, is present in the latest Canary build of Google Chrome, version 122.0.6251.0.

The revised wording begins with: “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. Learn more.”

On the other hand, the following text appears in an incognito tab while using the most recent stable version of Chrome: You can now surf privately, preventing other users from seeing your activity. But bookmarks, downloads, and items from your reading list will remain. Study up on it.

While the phrasing has been altered, the bullets beneath the incognito notice, cautioning that browsing activity may still be visible to Websites you visit, Your employer or school, and Your internet service provider, remain unchanged.

Google’s Shifting Perspective

google-tweaks-chrome's-incognito-warning-amid-lawsuit-allegations
Google secretly changed the description of its private browsing function shortly after settling a lawsuit alleging the company tracked user activities while Chrome was in incognito mode.

The modification in the notice holds substantial importance, especially when considering that Google had previously cited it as evidence of their efforts to inform users about the potential tracking that could occur during incognito mode.

Last year, spokesperson José Castañeda emphasized, As we clearly state each time you open a new incognito tab, websites might be able to collect information about your browsing activity during your session. 

However, this argument did not sway Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, who rejected Google’s bid for summary judgment in August.

Last month, ArsTechnica reported that Google and the plaintiffs in the lawsuit had agreed to settlement terms. These terms are expected to be presented to the court in January, with final approval anticipated by the end of February. 

The subtle change in the description could be interpreted as a response to the legal challenges and an effort to clarify the limitations of Chrome’s incognito mode to users.

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