Alphabet CEO Pichai can be questioned in privacy lawsuit

A California federal judge has ordered that plaintiffs who accuse Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google of illegally tracking their internet activity while in “Incognito” browsing mode can confront Chief Executive Sundar Pichai for up to two hours.

Users accused Google of illegally invading their privacy by tracking internet use while Google Chrome browsers were set to “private” mode in a lawsuit filed in June 2020.

According to a Monday 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 Castaeda, are “unwarranted and overreaching.”

“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 “Castaeda explained.

According to a court filing in September, 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 spotlight.”

U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan van Keulen of San Jose, California, wrote on Monday that “a few papers demonstrate that particular pertinent information was transmitted to, and perhaps from, Pichai,” and so backed the plaintiffs’ lawyers’ request to interrogate him.

Incognito only prevents data from being saved on a user’s device, according to Google, which is opposing the lawsuit.In recent years, amid increased public worries about online spying, the Alphabet unit’s privacy revelations have drawn regulatory and judicial scrutiny.