Google now admits it could collect data in Chrome's Incognito mode

The company updated its disclaimer after settling a lawsuit accusing it of tracking Incognito users.

REUTERS / Reuters

When users open an Incognito browser on Chrome, they'll see a notification warning them that other people using their device won't be able to see their activity but that their downloads, bookmarks and reading items will still be saved. Now, Google has updated that disclaimer in Chrome's experimental Canary channel, shortly after agreeing to settle a $5 billion lawsuit accusing it of tracking Incognito users. As first noticed by MSPowerUser, the company has tweaked the disclaimer in Canary to add language that says Incognito mode won't change how websites collect people's data.

"Others who use this device won’t see your activity, so you can browse more privately," the new disclaimer reads. "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 publication spotted the updated warning in Canary on Android and Windows, and we can confirm that the same language appears in the version of Chrome for Mac.

Google was hit with a lawsuit in 2020, accusing it of tracking users' activities even if they're on Incognito mode. The plaintiffs told the court that the company used tools like its Analytics product, apps and browser plug-ins to monitor users. They also argued that by tracking users on Incognito, Google was giving people the false belief that they could control the information they're willing to share. A Google spokesperson explained at the time that the mode could only hide a user's activity on the device they're using but that their information could still be collected. That's not clearly communicated in the current disclaimer for the public version of Chrome, but it looks like that could change in the near future.

A screenshot showing incognito mode's new disclaimer.