Alphabet CEO to be questioned during privacy proceedings, judge rules

Petitioners who have accused Google of Alphabet of illegally tracking Internet use in “secret” browsing mode, might have a chance to ask CEO Sundar Pichai for up to two hours, a federal judge in California has ruled.

As such, users illegally accused Google, in a proceeding filed in June 2020, of violating their privacy by tracking their internet usage when their Google Chrome browser is set to “private” mode.

In addition, the plaintiffs claim that Pichai has “unique personal knowledge” of issues related to Chrome browsers and privacy concerns, a court filing on Monday said.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan van Keulen in San Jose, California, said in her order on Monday, “a few documents establish that specific relevant information was communicated to, and possibly from, Pichai,” and therefore supported a request from the plaintiffs’ lawyers to question him.

On another note, Google has said earlier that it makes clear that Incognito doesn’t let data from being saved to a user’s device and is planning on fighting the lawsuit.

“In this case, we strongly disagree with this claim, but we have cooperated with plaintiffs’ countless demands … we will continue to actively defend ourselves,” Castaneda said.

The CEO already warned in 2019 that it would be tricky to explain the company’s secret browsing mode as “private,” however,  a court filed in September said the feature was “in the limelight.”

The disclosures made by Alphabet unit’s privacy led to regulatory and legal scrutiny in recent years among growing public concern about online surveillance.

It is worth mentioning that the Federal Trade Commission noted that it’s considering drafting new rules for U.S. businesses that would regulate more strongly the way data and algorithms can be used, in the latest move to hold down on technology companies run.

Those attempts could lead to “market-wide requirements” targeting “harms that can result from commercial surveillance and other data practices,” agency chair Lina Khan announced in a letter to Senator Richard Blumenthal.