Incognito mode is one way to surf secretly on a mobile device, but it is not the only or best way. And even less if we talk about the recently questioned incognito mode of Google Chrome.
After a lawsuit against Google in 2020 for collecting data in Chrome’s incognito mode, which is now coming up again, we want to look at everything that this browser mode doesn’t hide, both on mobile devices and on desktop computers.
Third parties have access like in normal browsing
Based on what Google says on its website, the incognito mode of Google Chrome is not as private as it might seem on paper. The first sign of this is that the IP address is never hidden, which we could only do by setting up a VPN or using a browser that already has a VPN built in.
This means that other people might have a record of what we do. For instance, the company that provides the Internet or Google itself. The company has been taken to court because it is the Mountain View company that collects data when incognito mode is used.
Websites can also detect this activity and gather data. Google’s FileSystem API in incognito mode makes it so. Websites can keep temporary files to “confuse” them about the user’s mode. The problem is that developers have found other ways to find out if a browser is in private mode. For example, check the FileSystem API’s writing speed. It can presume navigation mode is active if files are written quicker than normal.
You can also tell if you are in incognito mode by looking at how much free space the API gives each site. In private browsing, the limit is 120 MB. So, in the end, they can collect information just like when you browse the web.
More from us: These Google Chrome extensions invade privacy
What does Chrome incognito mode do?
After reading what you just did, you might be wondering what this mode of the Google browser is for. Well, there are a few things that are different from normal browsing that give the name “incognito” meaning, even though they aren’t as private as you might think.
For example, it doesn’t save the history, which is a big part of what the modality is all about. In the same way, it doesn’t keep the files with cookies when the tab is closed. Also, it doesn’t think about the files that are already stored when we’re in incognito mode.
So, you won’t discover advertising or recommendations based on your typical or “incognito mode” activities. Even so, as we’ve already said, this doesn’t mean that websites can’t keep records of what you do on them. The fact that forms can’t be filled out automatically is also interesting. Lastly, you can’t save passwords in this mode, because that’s something you can only do when you’re browsing normally.
Everything suggests that Google Chrome’s incognito mode, like many others, is semi-private. Thus, it will prevent you from leaving a trail that you or anyone with access to your phone can see. However, it won’t hide your browsing history.