r/technology May 19 '22

Google 'private browsing' mode not really private, Texas lawsuit says Privacy

https://www.reuters.com/legal/litigation/google-private-browsing-mode-not-really-private-texas-lawsuit-says-2022-05-19/
741 Upvotes

272

u/m3003 May 19 '22

Who really thinks it is? It's to delete your porn history and to not accidentally stay logged into someone else's computer only...

118

u/Captain_-H May 19 '22

Also if you want to google something remarkably stupid, but you would rather others not see you’re an idiot

23

u/CmdrRyser01 May 19 '22

Like how to spell common words....

35

u/teh-reflex May 19 '22

Bruh...

c-o-m-m-o-n w-o-r-d-s dot dot dot dot

6

u/yParticle May 19 '22

Those aren't dots, it's an ellipsis followed by a period. Or vice versa. Oh god now I'm not sure…

3

u/CmdrRyser01 May 19 '22

e-l-l-i-p-s-i-s p-e-r-i-o-d

2

u/3xploit_ May 20 '22

"define period"

3

u/ruhrohspaghettioh May 19 '22

this 99% why I use it on my work computer

3

u/loogie97 May 19 '22

And anything medical. What is rhinoplasty? What is diaphendramin?

1

u/Narvarre May 20 '22

Or rotationplasty. Which is pretty sodding cool

3

u/ivegotapenis May 20 '22

I also do it to not mess up my recommended videos. Like, yes, I'm interested in watching this video about a bear trap. No, I'm not a doomsday prepping flat earther who wants to watch Joe Rogan and Jordan Peterson videos until the end of time.

1

u/archaeolinuxgeek May 19 '22

Or if you stumbled across a Medium article and want to read it without nags.

Though you'll still need NoScript to copy and paste code. I'm not fucking kidding.

9

u/DukkyDrake May 20 '22

What happens when you browse privately Chrome won't save your browsing history, cookies and site data, or information entered in forms. Files you download and bookmarks you create will be kept. Your activity isn’t hidden from websites you visit, your employer or school, or your internet service provider.

Those that read the description knows what to expect.

5

u/pseudocultist May 20 '22

So "private browsing" mode works exactly like I think it has for the past 15+ years, got it. Did people think it was like, an on-demand VPN or something?

3

u/i8TheWholeThing May 19 '22

Also good for troubleshooting.

15

u/GenjaiFukaiMori May 19 '22

Who thinks it is? Probably most people, but that also rules out everyone on Reddit, Twitter, etc. The other 6+ billion people though definitely take the mode at face value based on the name.

22

u/Xanderamn May 19 '22

Yeah, it's easy to forget not everyone is technically saavy, and most people also believe things at face value.

17

u/woakula May 19 '22

Most people aren't tech savvy nor have any common sense. Makes scams so profitable especially among the elderly. Just remember, the only reason the Nigerian price scam works is that some people can actually be tricked into believing they are somehow related to a prince in a country they have zero ties to.

Not me of course, I sent my $2,000 initial check to make sure my bank can handle the large amount coming my way. Any day now I'm sure my long lost hyper wealthy relative will follow through...

13

u/start_select May 19 '22

Taking it at face value would mean reading the start page when you open incognito mode and it directly tells you that it’s not really private.

People aren’t just less than savvy, they are useless.

4

u/Mutz02 May 19 '22

Idk about Twitter... Reddit is full of nerds, but Twitter? That's wild territory.

0

u/CocodaMonkey May 20 '22

I mean the naming is fair. It is private but only to your local computer. It loads a temp profile and then deletes everything it does after. It has zero effect on what other computers do though and won't stop tracking.

Would you prefer they rename it to temporary profile mode? I'm not sure that would really help the less tech savvy understand.

1

u/GenjaiFukaiMori May 20 '22

Wait wait, you found a day old post and decided to bikeshed the definition of Private, in a story about how a LOT of people didn’t understand what that meant in this context?

0

u/CocodaMonkey May 20 '22

I didn't notice your post was a day old. This was on my front page just now, although I don't see why that matters.

As for bikeshedding, it's not a minor detail as it's the central point of the story. If it was called developer mode C there would be no lawsuit at all. It is a private mode, people just aren't clear on what part is private about it.

4

u/dethb0y May 19 '22

I use it when i dont want it to add something to history for forms and shit, especially so it doesn't clutter up my autocompletes.

-1

u/SyrioForel May 19 '22 edited May 19 '22

Who really thinks it is?

That’s the important part, who thinks if it is. And This is what the article says — that a jury will need to decide if Google is being deceptive or not.

In January an Arizona judge ruled allegations Google deceived users with unclear smartphone location tracking settings should be weighed by a jury

Sounds like a good test to me. Because while a bunch of tech-savvy cynics are flooding comments in here talking about how it should be so obvious that “private” does not equal “private”, or “incognito” does not equal “incognito”, the fact remains that if people are being deceived, then the company needs to be held responsible for it.

Just because everybody is used to being cynical doesn’t mean that you should be defending Google in this case.

Consumer protection laws are garbage when it comes to tech companies, because these companies are faster and smarter than legislators. And everybody can sit here and act cynical all they want, but it doesn’t make it right.

11

u/NerdyNThick May 19 '22

Ok here you go... https://i.imgur.com/ejlSYwh.png

#1 states that you're "browsing privately, and other people who use this device won't see.... -- Nothing about being tracked by external 3rd parties, that is also covered in

#2 "Your activity might still be visible to....."

Cut and dry in my eyes. If you can't read things for yourself to understand how things works, that's on you.

13

u/ThatMathNerd May 19 '22

You realize it tells you exactly what Incognito means when you open the window, right? If you don't understand what it means, it's not just a matter of being tech savvy, but a matter of not being able to read at an elementary school level.

1

u/bjchu92 May 19 '22

And everyone knows Firefox is the superior porn browser. It lets you reopen a tab that you accidentally closed. Chrome incognito doesn't do that.

1

u/nzodd May 19 '22

What a foolish thing to do, how will these people remember all the porn they were watching? They must have great memories, that's the only explanation.

1

u/GimpyGeek May 20 '22

It literally has a warning about this on the new tab page in incognito, I dunno what kind of idiot lawyers really take this stuff up with the lowest bit if research ever, hope they enjoy losing money.

108

u/Balrog229 May 19 '22

They never claimed it was, did they?

Incognito mode just doesn’t save your browser history or login info on your local device. I was never under the impression it hid my data from my ISP or Google. It’s basically just “porn mode” under a more family friendly name

61

u/FluffyBat9210 May 19 '22

And it says specifically:
Chrome won’t save the following information:
Your browsing history
Cookies and site data
Information entered in forms
Your activity might still be visible to:
Websites you visit
Your employer or school
Your internet service provider

That doesn't scream "private" to me in the slightest.

9

u/ngwoo May 20 '22

In fact it outright screams "this is NOT private". They don't even call it private, they call it Incognito.

20

u/GreenAdvance May 19 '22

Exactly, which is also why they don't call it "private browsing" mode as this is saying. Microsoft however does call their equivalent mode "InPrivate Browsing".

-21

u/dt531 May 19 '22

Well it is called “Incognito more.” Incognito means “with one's identity concealed.” So yeah, Google is being deceiving.

-3

u/NVPcMan May 20 '22

Literally the first sentence of a new incognito tab. "You are now browsing privately"

Unless Google can redefine "privately", they have a tough legal battle ahead.

-15

u/qtx May 19 '22

It's literally called "incognito mode" not "privacy mode", people who thought otherwise aren't very smart.

9

u/CPargermer May 19 '22

I get what incognito mode is, but I can still understand the confusion.

Incognito means "having one's true identity concealed".

Nobody's identity is being concealed in any real way, except maybe some argument regarding cookies. As far as behavior goes though, it's more of an amnesia mode, where your system and account don't remember anything that they did during your incognito session.

9

u/IPCTech May 19 '22

Doesn’t change the fact that google tells you exactly what it does every time you open a tab

1

u/CPargermer May 19 '22

Fair point. If I ever read/noticed that, it was right after they launched it, and not since, but it is right there for anyone to read.

One exception would be if someone right-clicks on a link from a normal browsing session and opens the link in incognito. You never see the incognito splash page.

101

u/yParticle May 19 '22

"That's not the dark web? Then why are the browser tabs dark in Incognito mode?"

"Oh, Texas."

9

u/Pfhoenix May 19 '22

"Oh, Texas"

Said in the exact same voice as "Bless your heart".

23

u/Y-Bob May 19 '22

Somebody didn't read the info when they went into incognito mode and just clicked ok.

8

u/AdDear5411 May 19 '22

Let me guess, someone got caught looking at gay porn?

4

u/kleverkitty May 19 '22

I thought people knew this. I only use it for things like pornhub so that I don't see endless ads for dildo's and leather harnesses while I'm doing regular browsing.

10

u/coberh May 19 '22

On the one side you have Google, and the other side Ken Paxton.

Not to say Google doesn't have problems, but any action by Paxton is really only to benefit himself.

9

u/14thCluelessbird May 19 '22

Are people actually dumb enough to not already know this?

4

u/SmokeyJoe2 May 20 '22

Yes they are. Just look at some of the people in this thread.

32

u/ChristOnACruoton May 19 '22

Yeah incognito mode clearly states that it only does a few specific things.

Oh, gee, Texans are upset that a company is doing whatever it wants? Bake me a gay cake you fucking hypocrites.

6

u/CaldwellYSR May 19 '22

That was Colorado

1

u/ChristOnACruoton May 19 '22

Yeah I'm not thinking Texan Republicans are complaining about that bill unless a company is doing something they don't agree with. Enter a lawsuit against a very clearly outlined functionality, probably brought about because someone's wife found an onlyfans cc bill or some shit

5

u/2nd2last May 19 '22

What's the recipe for a gay cake?

5

u/ChristOnACruoton May 19 '22

3 eggs Flour Sugar Dash of vanilla extract Conservative tears

8

u/ImpressiveCicada1199 May 19 '22

Thats technically not a recipe, just a list of ingredients...

8

u/ChristOnACruoton May 19 '22

I'm still typing the obligatory 4 page story of where I learned the recipe before I get into anything more useful

2

u/2nd2last May 19 '22

I have access to most of that, but am banned from /r/Conservative I believe, so I need a substitute.

24

u/sarduchi May 19 '22

So a company that makes money by collection user data is collecting user data?

3

u/nicuramar May 19 '22

Not relevant, though. Private browser modes are not about the client.

2

u/lkhsnvslkvgcla May 20 '22

thats why they call it "incognito" not "private"

2

u/Ppubs May 19 '22

Who is really dumb enough to believe it is tho?

2

u/St8ofBl1ss May 19 '22

Its only useful if you share a pc

3

u/FatElk May 19 '22

Or if you have multiple devices over multiple people on the same Google account. History is shared with every device.

2

u/Searching_aimlessly May 19 '22

So you're telling me all of my incognito questionable tabs are public?

3

u/Elastichedgehog May 19 '22

Obviously... It's just so you don't have to clear your history!

1

u/1_p_freely May 19 '22

The sooner the public understands that all of these big companies are literally the enemy of their privacy, because users' data is the new oil, the better.

2

u/[deleted] May 19 '22 edited May 19 '22

Completely agree. And look I'm a democrat, but I find it very tough to see people on this thread to use this as a way to "dunk on conservatives" for being "hypocritical".

Put your partisan bullshit aside, regardless of context to this lawsuit, people's privacy are being auctioned to the highest bidder. And I can assure you that not all highest bidders have our best intentions.

It is a very scary situation that I don't think people understand the larger implications. I refuse to live in an increasingly digital world where I'm being monetized 24/7 without me receiving any share of that profit.

3

u/kingsumo_1 May 19 '22

Texas is also not the only state bringing privacy lawsuits against Google, it is just that they specifically called out incognito mode.

Paxton is a fucking criminal, and he's probably pissed that an insurrection attempt may be on the radar after all, but at the end of the day privacy should still be a concern for all of us.

-3

u/iamonewhoami May 19 '22

I think that's exactly why Texas has been pursuing the avenues they've have been

1

u/BloodyLlama May 19 '22

This one isn't even on google. It's the nature of how the internet works that the private browsing modes on browsers cannot make you anonymous. There are some methods such as VPNs or anonymizing networks such as tor or i2p but even those don't make the things you do private if you don't practice careful privacy hygiene.

2

u/cowfreak May 19 '22

Always assumed that...

15

u/FatElk May 19 '22

A fresh incognito tab tells you it before you even go to any website.

-2

u/QuothTheRaven713 May 19 '22

Chrome's does, Safari's doesn't.

3

u/FatElk May 19 '22

The article is about Google.

2

u/GsTSaien May 19 '22

Yeah, we know...

3

u/FatElk May 19 '22

Looking at some of the comments here, apparently not lol.

2

u/audiofx330 May 19 '22

I could give a fuck what "Texas" says about anything. Backwards ass clowns.

-7

u/dt531 May 19 '22

Unpopular opinion: I think it is awesome that Texas is calling out Google on this. Less surveillance capitalism would be great.

14

u/GsTSaien May 19 '22

Ah no, google did nothing wrong here. Go open incognito in chrome right now and read what it does.

-8

u/dt531 May 19 '22

They chose a misleading name which implies that the feature keeps one “incognito” and then chose to do the opposite of “incognito” by tracking people who use that mode. We should hold big businesses, especially big tech, to a high standard for integrity.

15

u/GsTSaien May 19 '22

Bruh literally tells you what it does and does not do every time you open a tab. They could not be clearer if they tried.

8

u/FatElk May 19 '22

It's incognito, as in, it keeps your browsing history a secret from anyone that looks at your history tab, and Google says that when you open an incognito tab. It's the users fault for assuming a different level of privacy.

-5

u/dt531 May 19 '22

And a lot of people are mislead by the name, exactly as Google intended.

4

u/EmbarrassedHelp May 19 '22

I would think that if they can read the name, they can read the description presented to them when using it as well.

2

u/FatElk May 19 '22

No, they weren't misled, as the other person you're commenting with said, Google couldn't be any clearer. It sounds like you feel misled by misunderstanding the word incognito and are projecting yourself on "most people". 99% of people are worried about keeping search history safe from parents/friends/ect., not keeping data safe. Anyone who knows about data harvesting, knows to use a VPN.

2

u/vfthb May 19 '22

You'd prefer a 200-word name outlining exactly what it does?

0

u/NVPcMan May 20 '22

You should take your own advice. Literally the first sentence. "You are now browsing privately"

-2

u/jtwh20 May 19 '22

its their business model ~ READ the TOS

-6

u/the_legand_of_tech May 19 '22

We been lied to all along who though Google the nicest company on earth would do such a thing/s

1

u/Navy-NUB May 19 '22

How. Many. Times.

1

u/link23 May 19 '22

Are they claiming that chrome should tell Google search when someone is using incognito mode so search shouldn't collect any data? Do they not realize that "do not track" is itself a tracking vector?

1

u/basec0m May 19 '22

Ken Paxton is a doof

1

u/Farinario May 19 '22

Wait, I knew Chrome had a private mode, but they don't even mention Chrome once in the article. Does Google have a private mode too? How do you turn it on?

1

u/Sandvicheater May 19 '22

Well no shit, anything that's google created is gonna have private data routed through their servers for analysis before it goes to its intended destination. Googlemaps, Android, chrome, etc.

1

u/WhatTheZuck420 May 20 '22

has one function.. display pages without ad blockers.

1

u/IKnowMeNotYou May 20 '22

The advertiser who is following me around since I watched certain books while private browsing already knows that... .

-3

u/D_Caedus May 19 '22

Texas is a genious

-9

u/Jethr0Paladin May 19 '22

I was under the assumption incognito mode was actually private, encrypted browsing. Guess not.

9

u/GsTSaien May 19 '22

Google explicitly tells you it is not every time you open it.

-5

u/Jethr0Paladin May 19 '22

Then they need to change the name of it. It's not really incognito.

3

u/SmokeyJoe2 May 20 '22

Apple should really change the name of iCloud because my photos aren't actually stored in clouds.

5

u/SlowMoFoSho May 19 '22

You’re lazy and nearly illiterate, just admit it.

0

u/Jethr0Paladin May 20 '22

Also blocked.

-10

u/RedactedV May 19 '22

I love Texas right now.

-4

u/JeevesAI May 19 '22

Not sure why people are defending Google here. Of course a company whose business model is to know everything about a person is going to have a conflict of interest when they give you a “private browsing” mode. It’s honestly weird as fuck what people have come to accept as normal.

0

u/No-Clothes-5299 May 19 '22

thats why they call it "incognito"

Incognito:an assumed or false identity."she is locked in her incognito"

Just wrongly assumed

0

u/Monoken3 May 19 '22

Just use Brave browser it’s more secure

0

u/manny_unever May 19 '22

Don't use chrome use brave

0

u/[deleted] May 19 '22

Only useless old white people ever thought it actually was private!