A United States judge has given the green light for a lawsuit against Google alleging it tracks users even when they switch to Incognito mode in the company’s Chrome browser. The tech giant had attempted to have the $5bn (€4.16bn) case dismissed.

The browsing option states Chrome will not save users’ browsing history, cookies, site data and information entered in forms, but activity might still be visible to websites visited, and a user’s employer, school and internet service provider.

The class action filed last June claims Google is a “pervasive data tracking business” which, despite privacy features, gathers data through Google Analytics and other applications and plug-ins regardless of browsing mode used.

The three individuals behind the action allege information gathered includes the “most intimate and potentially embarrassing things” and is collected from “virtually every American with a computer or phone”.

Northern California district judge Lucy Koh ruled the company must face the lawsuit, writing it “did not notify users that Google engages in the alleged data collection while the user is in private browsing mode.”

A Google spokesperson said the company would defend itself against the claims, adding: “As we clearly state each time you open a new Incognito tab, websites might be able to collect information about your browsing activity during your session.”

The lawsuit seeks at least $5bn, or $5,000 per violation, for “likely” millions of users.

PrivSec Global, a live streaming event, takes place on 23-25 March featuring more than 200 speakers and 64 sessions on privacy, data protection and cyber-security.