Alphabet Inc’s Google (GOOGL) is being sued in a proposed class action for allegedly invading the privacy of millions of users by tracking their internet use through browsers set in “private” mode.
According to a Reuters report, the lawsuit seeks at least $5 billion, accusing the internet search giant of collating information about what users search online and where they browse, despite using what Google calls Incognito mode.
The complaint filed in the federal court in San Jose, California, asserts that Google collects 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.
As a result, Google learns about users’ friends, hobbies, favorite foods, shopping habits, and even the “most intimate and potentially embarrassing things” they search for online, the complaint said.
In response Jose Castaneda, a Google spokesman, said that the California-based company will defend itself vigorously against the claims.
“As we clearly state each time you open a new incognito tab, websites might be able to collect information about your browsing activity,” he said.
According to the complaint the proposed class likely includes “millions” of Google users who since June 1, 2016 browsed the internet in “private” mode. It seeks at least $5,000 of damages per user for violations of federal wiretapping and California privacy laws.
Shares in Google have surged 37% since March 23 erasing all of their losses suffered earlier this year. The stock rose less than 1% to $1,433.31 as of Tuesday’s close.
In view of the recent rally, the stock’s upside potential is now expected to be more limited. The average analyst price target of $1,488.09 indicates shares may advance a mere 3.2% in the coming 12 months.
Overall, the Wall Street rating outlook for Google remains bullish. The Strong Buy consensus boasts 33 Buy ratings versus 2 Hold ratings. (See Alphabet’s stock analysis on TipRanks)
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