A federal judge in California told Google on Friday that the company must face a lawsuit over tracking users’ activities in Chrome‘s incognito mode.
According to a report from Bloomberg, Google had appealed to the court to throw out the case, but the judge rejected the request. Reuters noted that the suit seeks at least $5 billion in damages from the search giant — nearly $5,000 per user.
Last June, three users had filed a class-action lawsuit against the company alleging that its Chrome browser collects data even if you’re using the private (incognito) mode.
They said that after you turn off data tracking in the browser, other Google tools used by websites pass on your personal information to the company. The petitioners also alleged that the firm engages in a “pervasive data tracking business.”
A Google spokesperson said in a statement that the company has made it clear that while Chrome won’t save your activity while browsing in incognito mode, websites you’re visiting may collect some of your information.
Google “cannot continue to engage in the covert and unauthorized data collection from virtually every American with a computer or phone,”
“As we clearly state each time you open a new incognito tab, websites might be able to collect information about your browsing activity,” he said.
While users may view private browsing as a safe haven from watchful eyes, computer security researchers have long raised concern that Google and rivals might augment user profiles by tracking people’s identities across different browsing modes, combining data from private and ordinary internet surfing.