Google CEO has sought to keep Incognito Mode issues out of the spotlight, lawsuit says

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Google chief executive Sundar Pichai was warned in 2019 that describing the company’s Incognito browsing mode as “private” was problematic, but he stayed the course because he didn’t want the feature “in the spotlight. “, according to a new court file.

Google spokesman José Castañeda told Reuters the file “misrepresents emails referring to unrelated second and third hand accounts.”

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

Last June, users alleged in a lawsuit that Google was illegally tracking their internet usage when browsing Incognito in its Chrome browser. Google said it was clear that Incognito was only preventing data from being saved on a user’s device and fighting the lawsuit.

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In a written update on the preparations for the lawsuit filed Thursday in US District Court, lawyers for the users said they “plan to seek to remove” Pichai and Google Marketing Director Lorraine Twohill.

Lawyers, citing Google documents, said Pichai “was told in 2019 as part of a project led by Twohill that Incognito should not be labeled” private “as it risked exacerbating misconceptions known on the protections provided by the incognito mode “. “

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The dossier continued, “As part of those discussions, Pichai decided he” didn’t want to put the incognito in the spotlight “and Google went ahead without resolving these known issues.”

Castañeda said the teams “regularly discuss ways to improve the privacy controls built into our services.” Google lawyers have said they will oppose efforts to impeach Pichai and Twohill.

Last month, the plaintiffs filed Google vice president Brian Rakowski, described in the filing as “the ‘father’ of incognito mode.” He said that although Google says Incognito allows “private” browsing, what users expect “may not correspond” to reality, according to the complainants’ article.

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Google lawyers rejected the summary, writing that Rakowski also said terms such as “private,” “anonymous” and “invisible” with appropriate context “can be very helpful” in explaining Incognito.

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