Concerns have been raised about the suspected surveillance of internet use when surfing “incognito.”

A California federal court has ordered that plaintiffs who accused Alphabet’s Google of illegally tracking their internet activity while in “Incognito” browsing mode can interrogate CEO Sundar Pichai for up to two hours.

Users accused Google of illegally breaching their privacy by tracking internet activity when Google Chrome browsers were switched to “private” mode in a complaint filed in June 2020.

According to a court filing, the plaintiffs argue that Pichai has “unique, firsthand knowledge” of issues connected to the Chrome browser and privacy concerns.

According to Google spokesperson José Castaeda, the latest requirements are “unwarranted and overreaching.”

“While we strongly disagree with the accusations in this matter, we have complied with the plaintiffs’ numerous demands. We shall continue to defend ourselves vehemently “Castaeda said.

According to a court filing in September, Pichai was advised in 2019 that referring to the company’s Incognito browsing mode as “private” was inappropriate, but he persisted because he did not want the function “under the limelight.”

US Magistrate Judge Susan van Keulen of San Jose, California, stated in her decision that “a few papers demonstrate that particular pertinent information was transmitted to, and potentially from, Pichai,” and so backed the plaintiffs’ lawyers’ request to interrogate him.

Google has previously stated that Incognito just prevents data from being stored to a user’s device and that it is contesting the lawsuit.

In recent years, as public awareness about internet spying has grown, Alphabet’s privacy disclosures have drawn regulatory and judicial attention.

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