In the past, opening an Incognito Window in the search giant’s browser triggered a series of warnings, including one about secret agents that could be spying on you, either by standing right behind you or by intercepting your data.
The months that followed Edward Snowden’s revelations were full of conspiracy theorists claiming that this is only the beginning. In retrospective, it looks like not only Isaac Asimov and Philip K. Dick were able to predict the future, but also George Orwell, whose 1984 seems to be followed by today’s governments like an instruction manual. Google thought that an innocent joke about secret agents spying on you while you’re secretly browsing the Web wouldn’t hurt anyone, so they inserted it among the warnings that show up when opening an Incognito Window in Chrome. However, the joke has now disappeared, as reflected in the changelog of the most recent version.
The old warning included the following text”Pages you view in this tab won’t appear in your browser history or search history, and they won’t leave other traces, like cookies, on your device after you close all incognito tabs. Any files you download or bookmarks you create will be preserved, however. Going incognito doesn’t affect the behavior of other people, servers, or software. Be wary of surveillance by secret agents or people standing behind you.”
On the other hand, the removal of the secret agent warning is explained like this: “Pages you view in incognito tabs won’t stick around in your browser’s history, cookie store, or search history after you’ve closed all of your incognito tabs. Any files you download or bookmarks you create will be kept. Going incognito doesn’t affect the behavior of other people, servers, software, or people standing behind you.”
Mind you, the fact that Google removed that warning doesn’t mean that the threat is gone. On the contrary, the removal of that warning has only two possible explanations: either Google bothered someone with it, or the joke got old. In the first scenario, secret agents will continue spying on you, but you’ll quickly forget about that and continue browsing whatever it was that it would incriminate you if it weren’t in an Incognito Window. This type of browsing is indeed useful if you use a public computer, but it still doesn’t make you immune to keyloggers and other such things.
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