Google employees know that Incognito mode is not really private

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According to a series of internal communications discovered in court, Google employees were always aware, and made jokes about, the inefficiency of Chrome’s “Incognito mode,” and have rebuked the company for failing to meet its users’ expectations of privacy.

In an email to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Google marketing chief Lorraine Twohill said, “Make Incognito Mode truly private. We are limited in how aggressively we can market Incognito because it is not truly private, necessitating extremely hazy, almost damaging hedging language.”

The allegations didn’t end there; it seems to be a running gag among Google engineers as well. “We need to stop calling it Incognito and using the Spy Guy icon,” suggested one engineer. Another user suggested that the icon should be Guy Incognito of The Simpsons, whose sloppy disguise conveys exactly the level of privacy that incognito mode provides compared to Chrome’s default browsing mode.

More Google employees have asked Google to change the customer-centric language to Incognito. One suggested changing the home screen to read “You are NOT protected from Google,” rather than “You are protected from other people using this device.” This was rejected by executives.

The courts will decide whether Google is obliged to compensate its users, half of whom mistakenly believe that using Incognito mode prevents Google from seeing what they are looking for online.

The sources for this piece include an article in CPOMagazine.

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