Google Chrome incognito mode screen on browser

Incognito mode on Google Chrome has a new disclaimer that confirms that the private browser still lets websites and services collect data, which previously had not been stated. 

The disclaimer, now seen in the latest Chrome Canary version 122 build, now lets users know that using Incognito mode “won’t change how data is collected by websites you visit and the services they use, including Google. Downloads, bookmarks, and reading list items will be saved.” 

This proves the private browser allowed websites to continue tracking users. However, this may not surprise many, with VPN services such as NordVPN explaining the use cases and privacy confusion of Google Chrome’s incognito mode.

Google Chrome Incognito Mode old disclaimer vs new disclaimer
Current Chrome Incognito mode disclaimer (left) vs. new Chrome Incognito mode disclaimer (right)

The change in the message comes after a $5 billion lawsuit accusing Google of tracking users in Incognito mode in 2020 (via Android Police). As the search giant currently states on its support page, “If you don’t want Google Chrome to remember your activity, you can browse the web privately in Incognito mode.”

In reality, websites and internet service providers can still track users’ activity through cookers and trackers. This means that collected data in Incognito mode could be linked back to a user’s profile, which platforms use for ad revenue.

Google recently settled this lawsuit, and the first signs of its updates are starting to show. The new disclaimer is available in Canary build 122 (spotted by MSPowerUser), which indicates that other people who use the device won’t see your activity, but trackers will continue.

Users are set to see the new disclaimer over the next few months, but other changes to wording may still happen leading up to the launch on stable channels.

Should I use a VPN in Incognito mode?

As shown in the aftermath of Google’s $5 billion lawsuit, Chrome’s Incognito mode doesn’t offer true privacy or security benefits. This is why it’s better to use one of the best VPNs.

Google Chrome’s Incognito mode primarily prevents your browsing history and temporary files from being stored on your device. However, it doesn’t hide your online activity from your internet service provider (ISP), the websites you visit, or other third parties. Plus, your IP address, which can be used to track your location and online activities, remains visible in Incognito mode.

With a VPN, these bases are covered. VPNs encrypt your internet traffic, making it unreadable to your ISP, government agencies, or anyone else who might try to intercept it. Moreover, VPNs replace your actual IP address with one from a different location, making it more difficult to track your online activities.

Using Incognito mode and a VPN means preventing local tracking on your device and encrypting your internet traffic. Using Google’s private browser alone won’t make you anonymous online.

Darragh Murphy
Darragh Murphy is fascinated by all things bizarre, which usually leads to assorted coverage varying from the mischievous world of online security to washing machines designed for earbuds. Whether it's connecting Scar from The Lion King to two-factor authentication or turning his love for laptops into a fabricated rap battle from 8 Mile, he believes there’s always a quirky spin to be made. When he's not checking out the latest devices and all things tech, he can be found swimming laps, watching terrible shark movies, and trying to find time to game.  Previous Editor at Laptop Mag and News Editor at Time Out Dubai, specialising in food culture, nightlife events, gaming, tech and entertainment.

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