If you think that using incognito mode in Chrome would really hide your footprints, you are in for a shock. A new report says that user-anonymous identifiers are collected while browsing in private mode and Google has the ability to connect this information to your Google Account.
Let’s say you open up a private browser session in Chrome. Websites that run Google ads automatically send anonymized cookies to the browser associated with the user.
So the next time you enter the normal browsing mode and log into a Google service like Gmail or YouTube, the mere act of signing into Google makes it possible to connect your private web activity to your account.
This tracking can be stopped only if the cookies expired or get manually deleted by the user.
Douglas Schmidt, a computer science professor at Vanderbilt University who came up with this report, says that this fact is not well understood by users because there are a lot of disclaimers if you read the fine print on ‘incognito’ mode.
It is important to note that the study could not tell if Google actually takes the steps necessary to link anonymous data from incognito mode to the user account when they log in. But Google has neither denied the possibility of such a method.
Meanwhile, Google has discredited the report claiming that Schmidt is biased as he is also a witness for Oracle in a lawsuit against Google.
Nevertheless, it is important to keep in mind that browsing incognito is not a foolproof way to hide your footprints. And it’s probably not a good idea to log into Google’s services while you are still in an incognito session.