A California federal judge has ordered that plaintiffs who allege Alphabet Inc's Google of illegally tracking their internet activity while in "Incognito" browsing mode can interrogate Chief Executive Sundar Pichai for up to two hours.
Customers accused Google of illegally breaching their privacy by tracking internet activity while Google Chrome browsers were switched to "private" mode in a complaint filed in June 2020.
As per the court filing, the plaintiffs claim that Pichai has "unique, personal knowledge" of issues connected to the Chrome browser and privacy concerns.
The additional requests, according to Google spokesman José Castañeda are "unjustified and overstepping."
"While we strongly disagree with the plaintiffs' claims in this lawsuit, we have complied with their numerous requests... We will continue to fight back vehemently " Castaneda explained.
"According to the Hon'ble Court, Sundar Pichai was advised in 2019 that referring to the company's Incognito browsing mode as "private" was inappropriate, but he persisted because he did not want the function under the limelight."
On 27th December 2021, U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan van Keulen in San Jose, California, ruled that "a few papers indicate that particular pertinent information was transmitted to, and perhaps from, Pichai," and therefore supported a request from the plaintiffs' counsel to interrogate him".
Google previously stated that Incognito just prohibits data from being stored on a user's device and that it is contesting the lawsuit.
In recent years, as public awareness about online spying has grown, the Alphabet unit's privacy disclosures have drawn regulatory and judicial attention.