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Google Marketing Executive Faces ‘Incognito’ Mode Questioning

Dec. 21, 2021, 3:49 PM

Google’s chief marketing officer Lorraine Twohill faces questioning in a consumer lawsuit alleging that the company’s web browser tracks users even when they’re in “Incognito” mode, according to a ruling from a federal judge in California.

Lawyers for the consumers, who are claiming privacy violations, want to ask Twohill about her concerns over Incognito’s branding as private. Twohill can provide up to four hours of testimony under an order issued Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

The Alphabet Inc. unit had sought to shield its marketing executive from the suit, arguing that consumers should first seek information from other, lower-ranking Googlers with knowledge of the browsing mode.

Consumers sued Google in June 2020, claiming that the company invades their privacy by gathering information on Incognito users. Google lost its bid to toss the suit in March.

The company has argued that its privacy disclosures make clear that the browsing mode prevents other people who use the same device from seeing a user’s activity, but such information could still be visible to websites a user visits or their internet service provider.

The consumers in the suit are represented by lawyers from Boies Schiller Flexner LLP, Susman Godfrey LLP, and Morgan & Morgan PA. Lawyers from Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP represent Google.

The case is Brown v. Google LLC, N.D. Cal., No. 5:20-cv-3664, court order 12/20/21.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrea Vittorio in Washington at avittorio@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kibkabe Araya at karaya@bloombergindustry.com