Incognito Mode's name is wrong, and even Google employees know it

A smartphone screen showing the Google Chrome Incognito Mode homepage
(Image credit: Shutterstock/ lidiasilva)

Even Google employees know that Chrome’s Incognito Mode isn’t as private as the name implies.

The Google Chrome feature allows users to hide their browsing history from other people using the same device, however, it doesn’t hide their data from the websites they visit or Google itself. You’d be forgiven for thinking that Incognito Mode is more private than it really is though; the company is facing a $5bn lawsuit over the confusion, and even its own Marketing Chief knew the flaws of the name it has been revealed.

As reported by Bloomberg, Google marketing chief Lorraine Twohill sent a direct email to the company’s CEO Sundar Pichai saying that it needs to “make Incognito Mode truly private.” Twohill added that because the service isn’t actually private, Google is required to use “fuzzy, hedging language,” which she argued could damage consumer trust in the company’s services.

Other documents that have been revealed as part of the court filings show Google employees criticizing the name back in 2018 as well as the use of the “Spy Guy” icon. The same employee linked to a study that showed 56.3% of 460 participants believed that their information was being kept private if they were using Incognito Mode. 

How to keep your online data private

If you’re looking for something that will do what many people think Incognito Mode can, you need to use one of the best VPN services out there.

While a lot of people use a VPN – short for Virtual Private Network – to bypass geo-locked content so they can more easily watch the best Netflix shows and best Prime video shows at home, the tool can also be used to browse the internet anonymously and securely. A VPN does this by first routing your data through its servers where it encrypts it before it passes to the website you're visiting.

ExpressVPN on Android phone

ExpressVPN is our favorite VPN service (Image credit: Future)

If you’re using one of the most private VPNs – which all offer strict no-log policies – then the VPN provider, nor the websites you visit, will know data like your device type, your location, or your browsing history. VPNs can even help to keep your personal information secure on public Wi-Fi networks, meaning you can access sensitive webpages with added peace of mind.

We love ExpressVPN best out of all the options out there, but there are several different options to choose from. And unlike Incognito Mode, your data will actually be kept private. 

Hamish Hector
Senior Staff Writer, News

Hamish is a Senior Staff Writer for TechRadar and you’ll see his name appearing on articles across nearly every topic on the site from smart home deals to speaker reviews to graphics card news and everything in between. He uses his broad range of knowledge to help explain the latest gadgets and if they’re a must-buy or a fad fueled by hype. Though his specialty is writing about everything going on in the world of virtual reality and augmented reality.