From Reuters: Google was sued on Tuesday in a proposed class action accusing the internet search company of illegally invading the privacy of millions of users by pervasively tracking their internet use through browsers set in \u201cprivate\u201d mode.The lawsuit seeks at least $5 billion, accusing the Alphabet Inc unit of surreptitiously collecting information about what people view online and where they browse, despite their using what Google calls Incognito mode.According to the complaint filed in the federal court in San Jose, California, Google gathers data through Google Analytics, Google Ad Manager and other applications and website plug-ins, including smartphone apps, regardless of whether users click on Google-supported ads. This helps Google learn about users\u2019 friends, hobbies, favorite foods, shopping habits, and even the \u201cmost intimate and potentially embarrassing things\u201d they search for online, the complaint said. We as Marketers have suspected Google using Google Analytics scripts and other apps to understand user behavior and feed algorithms for quite a while. This accusation, however, targets a problem that exists for quite a while: the misunderstanding of what an incognito browser does. From the class action suit: As discussed in more detail below, Google tracks and collects consumer browsing history and other web activity data no matter what safeguards consumers undertake to protect their data privacy. Indeed, even when Google users launch a web browser with \u201cprivate browsing mode\u201d activated (as Google recommends to users wishing to browse the web privately), Google nevertheless tracks the users\u2019 browsing data and other identifying information. This is not new. Incognito browsers have never done what users think they do. 40% of people think that the browser incognito mode prevents websites and other players to track them. That\u2019s not the case. You\u2019re not anonymous. Instead, incognito simply doesn\u2019t store cookies at the end of the session. It deletes session data in your browser when you close the window but you\u2019re still perfectly traceable. According to ZNET, Google promised to fix this issue in 2019 but didn\u2019t. Some sites even block incognito users. For Google, there are tons of avenues to track people: Google Analytics tracking pixel on websitesGoogle Sign-in buttonGoogle Ad ManagerVarious other applications and plug-ins Google accomplishes its surreptitious tracking through means that include: GoogleAnalytics, Google Ad Manager, and various other application and website plug-ins, such as Google applications on mobile devices and the \u201cGoogle Sign-In button\u201d for websites. When an internet user visits a webpage or opens an app that uses such services (over 70% of all online publishers use such a service), Google receives detailed, personal information such as the user\u2019s IP address (which may provide geographic information), what the user is viewing, what the user last viewed, and details about the user\u2019s hardware. The problem - and this is what Google is sued for - is that people don\u2019t understand how incognito works (the survey I linked to above proves it) and that Google gives people a false picture of reality. Google states in its documentation: and How private browsing works: Google does state that searches or visits won\u2019t be saved on users\u2019 devices but they don\u2019t mention that users will still be traceable. It will be very interesting to see how this class action suit plays out. However, it brings back the good old notion of what Google knows about you. And the answer is: a lot. The best way to see for yourself is to look at your Google my activity record of stored information. On top of that, there\u2019s a section called \u201cmore activity\u201d. It\u2019s well-hidden (for a reason), but on https:\/\/myactivity.google.com\/more-activity, you can see all the other sources of data Google takes into account., such as Youtube, Play Store, Maps, etc. It ties nicely with a patent about User-sensitive PageRank that I wrote about in the light of Prabhakar Raghavan leading Search. The idea of Authority value is to blend user behavior data with classic PageRank models. If Google can trace our searches and other data perfectly, I reckon they can create a profile of users that would allow them to understand their expertise in a field. As a result, maybe certain visits do matter more than others? Either way, I expect Google\u2019s tracking across several platforms to increase and impact organic search more over time. I\u2019ll publish a full article on this topic, which I call platform confluence, on Monday.