Google CEO Sundar Pichai may be questioned in privacy lawsuit over Chrome’s “Incognito” mode, rules by US court judge
Plaintiffs who have accused Alphabet’s Google of illegally tracking their Internet use in “Incognito” browsing mode can question Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai for up to two hours, a California federal judge has said.
In the lawsuit filed in June 2020, users accused Google of unlawfully invading their privacy by tracking internet usage while Google Chrome browsers were set to “private” mode.
The plaintiffs claim that Pichai has “unique and personal knowledge” of Chrome browser issues and privacy concerns, a court record from Monday showed.
Google spokesman José Castañeda told Reuters the new demands were “unwarranted and excessive”.
“Although we strongly deny the allegations in this case, we have cooperated with the innumerable demands of the plaintiffs… We will continue to defend ourselves vigorously,” Castañeda said.
Pichai in 2019 was warned that describing the company’s Incognito browsing mode as “private” was problematic, but he stayed the course because he didn’t want the feature “in the spotlight,” according to a court record in September.
In her order on Monday, U.S. investigating judge Susan van Keulen in San Jose, Calif., Said that “a few documents establish that specific relevant information was disclosed to, and possibly from, Pichai,” and therefore have supported a request from the plaintiffs’ lawyers to question him.
Google previously said it was clear that Incognito was only preventing data from being saved on a user’s device and was fighting the lawsuit.
The Alphabet unit’s privacy disclosures have sparked regulatory and legal scrutiny in recent years amid growing public concern about online surveillance.
© Thomson Reuters 2021