Google admits Chrome Incognito mode does almost nothing


The Google Chrome logo with the caption:
Google is finally having to make it clear that Chrome's Incognito mode does almost nothing.
Image: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

The description of Chrome’s Incognito mode will soon be changed to make it clear that Google tracks people who use the web browser. It also will warn users that websites can gather data about them as well.

This means the only people blocked from knowing your browsing history when using Incognito mode are family/friends who use the same computer.

Chrome Incognito mode is almost useless

At heart, Google is not a software developer. Its business is advertising – it creates apps only to allow it to gather information about users and sell them targeted advertising.

And users can’t escape Google’s tracking simply by switching to Chrome’s Incognito mode. The company is paying $5 billion to resolve a class-action lawsuit accusing Google of deceiving customers about how private the browser mode is.

Probably so there’s not another such suit, Google is changing the Incognito mode description, making it clear that it does virtually nothing to protect user privacy.

Developers can use Chrome Canary to get a preview of features coming to the browser. And according to MSPowerUser, opening Incognito mode in this version now shows a disclaimer stating:

“You’ve gone Incognito

“Others who use this device won’t see your activity, so you can browse more privately. This won’t change how data is collected by websites you visit and the services they use, including Google.

The text in bold above is a new addition.

So you can use Incognito mode to hide from your boyfriend that you’re checking out dating sites. Or to keep your wife from knowing you’ve been on those sites (you know what we mean). But Google will know.

Tips for more private browsing

Chrome is very popular, even with Mac users who can use Safari instead. (Privacy is just one of the reasons Apple fans should use Safari instead of Chrome.) But if there are certain websites you want to go to that you’d prefer didn’t get added to the profile Google has filled with your private information, switch to Safari Private Browsing. Apple doesn’t use Safari to track users.

Even better, use DuckDuckGo when you want to go off the grid. This privacy-focused search engine and browser won’t save your searches or try to track you in any way. Its whole reason for existing is to protect your privacy on the internet.


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