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Chrome’s anonymous browsing feature isn’t as secret as we assumed

GOOGLE HAS strongly denied accusations that Chrome’s ‘Private’ or ‘Incognito’ mode is collecting data that it is a lot less anonymous than you may have thought.

A researcher from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee found that although the data collected appears to be anonymised, in reality, Google can retroactively identify it from the usernames and other account data used during the session.

So, for example, if you sign into a website while using a private browsing window, the details of that login are still sent to Google which can put two and two together.

Digital Content Next, which organised the study, points out that adverts served up by Google’s advertising can be linked to the cookies created both in and out of Incognito mode.

Google warns that users’ browsing activity may still be visible to websites, internet service providers or the network administrator. Google doesn’t specify “us” as one of those parties.

Responding to the latest allegations, a Google spokesperson slammed the report as containing “wildly misleading information”. 

“This report is commissioned by a professional DC lobbyist group, and written by a witness for Oracle in their ongoing copyright litigation with Google,” the spokesperson added.

The news comes at a time when Google is already batting away data collection allegations for Google Maps, which, it is claimed, is collecting location coordinates, even when ‘Location History’ is switched off. Google says it’s because that’s what ‘Location History’ is for, regardless of how it says ‘location history’.

And yes, now someone is suing over it.

But with over half of web users now running Google Chrome, that’s a lot of data.

Professor Douglas Schmidt, who headed up the research said in the study, said: “Google utilises the tremendous reach of its products to collect detailed information about people’s online and real-world behaviours, which it then uses to target them with paid advertising,”

And worse still, according to The Independent, he thinks it can only go one way:”Google’s revenues increase significantly as the targeting technology and data are refined.”

Responding to critics of the location issue, Google has already said: “We provide clear descriptions of these tools, and robust controls so people can turn them on or off, and delete their histories at any time.”

Yeah, but… you haven’t, have you, Google? And now there’s this. μ

Further reading

Source : Inquirer

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Founder and Editor-in-Chief of 'Professional Hackers India'. Technology Evangelist, Security Analyst, Cyber Security Expert, PHP Developer and Part time hacker.

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