Google CEO sought to keep Incognito mode issues out of spotlight, lawsuit alleges


FILE PHOTO: Google CEO Sundar Pichai testifies during a remote video hearing held by subcommittees of the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee on "Social Media's Role in Promoting Extremism and Misinformation" in Washington, U.S., March 25, 2021. U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee/Handout via Reuters

(Reuters) - Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai in 2019 was warned that describing the company's Incognito browsing mode as "private" was problematic, yet it stayed the course because he did not want the feature "under the spotlight," according to a new court filing.

Google spokesman José Castañeda told Reuters that the filing "mischaracterizes emails referencing unrelated second and third-hand accounts."

The Alphabet Inc unit's privacy disclosures have generated regulatory and legal scrutiny in recent years amid growing public concerns about online surveillance.

Users last June alleged in a lawsuit that Google unlawfully tracked their internet use when they were browsing Incognito in its Chrome browser. Google has said it makes clear that Incognito only stops data from being saved to a user's device and is fighting the lawsuit.

In a written update on trial preparations filed Thursday in U.S. district court, attorneys for the users said they "anticipate seeking to depose" Pichai and Google Chief Marketing Officer Lorraine Twohill.

The attorneys, citing Google documents, said Pichai "was informed in 2019 as part of a project driven by Twohill that Incognito should not be referred to as 'private' because that ran 'the risk of exacerbating known misconceptions about protections Incognito mode provides.'"

The filing continued, "As part of those discussions, Pichai decided that he 'didn't want to put incognito under the spotlight' and Google continued without addressing those known issues."

Castañeda said teams "routinely discuss ways to improve the privacy controls built into our services." Google's attorneys said they would oppose efforts to depose Pichai and Twohill.

Last month, plaintiffs deposed Google vice president Brian Rakowski, described in the filing as "the 'father' of Incognito mode." He testified that though Google states Incognito enables browsing "privately," what users expect "may not match" up with the reality, according to the plaintiffs' write-up.

Google's attorneys rejected the summary, writing that Rakowski also said terms including "private," "anonymous," and "invisible" with proper context "can be super helpful" in explaining Incognito.

(Reporting by Paresh Dave; Editing by David Gregorio)

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 46
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
Join our Telegram channel to get our Evening Alerts and breaking news highlights

   

Next In Tech News

Malaysian player part of team winning over RM21mil at The International 10
New technology offers anonymous way to report abuse, doping in the US
Siemens prepares separation of large drive business
Using the world’s first green steel to make a dump truck
Ford to invest around $300 million to build electric car parts at UK plant
Singapore billionaire and Ronaldo try to marry football and tech
Philips lowers outlook as recall, parts shortages bite
Foxconn bullish on electric vehicle prospects as it shows off three prototypes
Energy-stricken South Africa weighs need to save climate and keep lights on
Stellantis, LGES to form battery JV for North American market

Others Also Read


Vouchers