WASHINGTON – Google’s search engine collects information from users who think they could be anonymous if they use “private browsing” mode, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton claimed Thursday, filing a revised privacy lawsuit against Alphabet Inc.
Texas, Indiana, Washington State and the District of Columbia filed separate lawsuits against Google in state court in January, calling them fraudulent location-tracking practices that invade users’ privacy.
Paxton’s filing adds Google’s camouflage mode to the lawsuit filed in January. Incognito mode or “personal browsing” is a web browser function that Paxton states will not track Google search history or location activity.
The lawsuit alleges that Google offers an alternative to “private browsing” which may include “visiting highly private websites which may indicate, for example, their medical history, political persuasion, or sexual orientation. Or they may be gifted with targeted ad barrages. He wants to buy a surprise gift without informing the recipient. “
“In reality, Google fraudulently collects an array of personal data even when a user is involved in incognito mode,” the lawsuit states.
Google said Thursday that Paxton’s filing was again “based on false claims and outdated claims about our settings. We have always created privacy features in our products and provided strong controls for location data.”
“We strongly oppose these claims and will vigorously defend ourselves to straighten the record,” it added.
Paxton had previously complained that Google misled customers by tracking their location even when users wanted to prevent it.
Google has a “location history” setting, and if users turn it off, “the places you visit are no longer saved,” Texas said.
In January, an Arizona judge ruled that Google had defrauded users with obscure smartphone location tracking settings that should be weighed by a jury, refusing to toss a lawsuit brought by the state’s attorney general. (Reporting by David Shepardsson; Editing by David Gregorio and Himani Sarkar)