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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Google faces a new lawsuit seeking at least $5 billion over accusations the company profits off of using its ad tech to track people across the internet, even when they take steps to mask their browsing.

The big picture: Google, like other tech giants, has faced rising scrutiny in recent years over its collection and use of private data, and policymakers and advocates have looked to how it uses ad tech as a possible avenue for curbing its power.

Details: The suit alleges that Google collected the plaintiffs' IP addresses, what sites they visit, and what devices they use, even as they browsed the internet in Chrome's "incognito" mode.

  • The plaintiffs named in the suit are three Google account holders, but they're seeking to make it a class action, which could mean many more people joining.

Context: The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, comes in the wake of Arizona's attorney general suing the company for allegedly misleading users on its location-tracking practices.

What they're saying:

  • “We strongly dispute these claims and we will defend ourselves vigorously against them," Google spokesperson Jose Castaneda said in a statement. "Incognito mode in Chrome gives you the choice to browse the internet without your activity being saved to your browser or device. As we clearly state each time you open a new incognito tab, websites might be able to collect information about your browsing activity during your session."
  • "Google’s enormous financial success results from its unparalleled tracking and collection of consumer personal information and selling and brokering of that information to optimize advertisement services," the lawsuit contends.

Go deeper: What Google knows about you

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
Sep 3, 2020 - Technology

New Apple ad pokes rivals over privacy

Photo: Apple

In a new TV ad out today, Apple features people inappropriately blurting out private information in public places.

Why it matters: With this bit of satire, Apple aims to win over consumers with a privacy-first message — and also to paint itself as a force for good amid the public debate over Big Tech's power.

Jan. 6 panel subpoenas 2 far-right "America First" activists

The House panel investigating the Capitol riot, from left; Reps. Bennie Thompson, Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger and Jamie Raskin on Capitol Hill in December. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The House select committee investigating the Capitol riot issued subpoenas Wednesday for far-right leaders Nick Fuentes and Patrick Casey, who allegedly encouraged followers to go to D.C. and challenge the 2020 election results.

Why it matters: The action underscores the panel's increasing focus on rallies held ahead of the Capitol attack and how extremists were drawn to former President Trump's baseless claims of widespread voter fraud, per the New York Times.

Democrats fail to change Senate rules to pass voting rights bill

Senate Majority Leader during a news conference in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Democrats failed Wednesday night to change Senate filibuster rules to pass the voting rights bill, with Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) voting with Republicans.

The big picture: The failed effort came after Senate Republicans blocked the voting rights measure from coming to a final vote earlier Wednesday.