Google Chief Executive Office Sundar Pichai has been slammed with a lawsuit, which claims that he apparently tried to keep issues about Google’s incognito browsing mode out of the spotlight. As per the suit, Pichai was warned back in 2019 that describing incognito as “private” would lead to problems, yet he continued with his plans.
Google spokesperson Jose Castaneda has said in a statement to Reuters that the lawsuit “mischaracterises emails” which reference “unrelated second and third-hand accounts.”
Not What Meets The Eye
The Alphabet Inc. subsidiary’s privacy disclosures have been the target of heavy legal scrutiny in recent times, thanks to growing concerns among the masses regarding online surveillance.
Last June, users had accused the company of unlawfully tracking their internet browsing habits even when they were using the so-called incognito mode on Chrome. In response, Google had asserted that it clearly informs users that the mode only prevents data from being stored on the users’ device. It is currently fighting the suit.
Seeking to Dispose Pichai
Trial preparations for the same have reportedly been filed on Thursday with a US district court, and reveal that the plaintiffs “anticipate seeking to dispose” Pichai, as well as Google’s Chief Marketing Head Lorraine Twohill.
The attorneys have cited Google’s internal documents, which show how Pichai already knew back in 2019 that incognito couldn’t be described as “private,” thanks to a project led by Twohill. The reason for the same was that it could potentially “exacerbate known misconceptions” about the sort and extent of protections that are provided by the Incognito mode.
These discussions eventually made Pichai decide that he wasn’t keen on “putting Incognito under the spotlight,” making Google continue providing the service without addressing the issues. According to Castaneda however, the company has always strived to “improve the privacy controls” that are built into its products, and Google’s own attorneys have also said that they would actively oppose all efforts to take down Pichai and Twohill.
May Not Match Reality
Just last month, Google vice president Brian Rakowski was deposed, after the filing described him as the “father of incognito.” In his testimony, he admitted that while the private browsing on incognito does work, the features delivered “may not match” with the reality.
However, Google’s lawyers rejected the statement, saying that if terms like “private,” “invisible,” and “anonymous” to incognito can actually help explain incognito better.