Privacy Challenges in the Digital Age: Tracking in Google’s “Stealth” Mode


In the 21st-century digital world of the Internet, the complex landscape of privacy and digital rights is full of opportunities and challenges, and concerns about the monitoring and protection of data, personal privacy, and online freedom have become the focus of attention in people’s exploration of social life, as well as an important topic worthy of insights and analyses in the digital network era. With the advancement and development of technology, people’s daily lives and digital experiences are becoming more and more closely related, which includes online searching, browsing website information, updating social media, etc. Users’ personal privacy information is subconsciously exposed to the social environment and is also collected and utilized from time to time.

However, the collection and analysis of personal information and online usage data provide users with a more convenient and personalized service experience. However, at the same time, such data may also be maliciously tampered with and utilized, resulting in the risk of privacy leakage and infringement of personal rights, making the user’s personal privacy subject to great challenges and facing great dilemmas.

In recent years, the frequent revelation of scandals about privacy leakage and infringement of individual rights by famous online technology companies such as Facebook, Google, and TikTok has also triggered widespread public concerns and reflections on the issue of individual privacy and rights in the use of the internet in the digital age. This blog post aims to delve into the multifaceted challenges of privacy and digital rights, analyze key issues in digital policy and governance, and clarify a critical understanding of the impact of digital policy and governance.

The concept of privacy and digital rights:

Privacy and digital rights refer to the basic human right to protect an individual’s private information and online activities in the digital age. There are some key concepts involved. Firstly, what are privacy and privacy rights? Domazet & Šušak-Lozanovska (2023) argue that privacy includes individual autonomy, democratic participation, management of one’s own identity, and social coordination. Whereas privacy is personal information and individual rights to be protected from infringement, the right to control the details of one’s life, and to disclose personal information (Shah, 2013, as cited in Domazet & Šušak-Lozanovska, 2023). The section on digital rights refers to digital citizenship and digital literacy. Pangrazio & Sefton-Green (2021) mention that digital literacy can be the basis of digital citizenship and digital rights, where digital citizens ethically participate in the digital society online and can correctly evaluate online information, manage privacy settings, and use technology safely while protecting personal information and rights. Competences.

Focus on digital policy and governance:

The development of the digital age poses a large number of risks to privacy and digital rights, including the widespread collection and use of private information by major web platforms, technology companies, and government agencies, which is a significant impediment to the protection of people’s right to privacy. It is also important to control the degree to which governments, businesses, and organizations monitor and protect the public’s private information and the degree to which they interfere with the public’s digital rights. Privacy and digital rights are important aspects of digital global governance that cannot be ignored, and regulating the definitions and boundaries of privacy and digital rights has a positive effect on the implementation of digital policies and online governance. Therefore, addressing the issues and challenges of privacy and digitization and understanding their implications for the development of individual lives and socialization is of significance.

The core issues include the following: first, the lawful and transparent collection and use of personal information. Filgueiras & Raymond (2023) emphasize the importance of clear legal frameworks to regulate the collection and use of personal information by organizations and governments, the importance of improving data protection laws and privacy regulations to establish clearer rules and standards for the collection, storage, and processing of personal data. As well as the importance of transparency, users need to be informed to let each other know how information data is collected and used and the purpose of use and to have full control over personal privacy information. The second is the protection of personal privacy. There is a need to establish relevant legal regulations. The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) legislation provides clear rules for companies and organizations to process personal private information and guarantees the fundamental rights to privacy and data protection in the Irish Charter of Fundamental Rights protects citizens from interference with and infringement of their privacy rights (Roberts, 2015). Third is the issue of privacy and security arising from the rise of emerging technologies. The development of emerging technology industries such as artificial intelligence and algorithms, Internet big data, and so on, creates new hidden dangers to users’ privacy and security. According to Williamson (2016), “datamining” the analysis of various human behaviors and sociality, real-time tracking, monitoring, and predictive analytics, gradually manages and infiltrates into people’s daily lives, e.g. Digital platforms such as Amazon, Google, Facebook, etc., need to rely on database system services to collect people’s personal information, analyze user preferences, and ultimately generate results and recommendations. These big data tools and algorithmic functions raise the risk of exposing users’ personal privacy information, which needs to be assessed and responded to in advance. Finally, there is public awareness of privacy protection and digital literacy, and Park (2013) suggests that increased digital literacy and digital education can have a positive effect on encouraging the public to participate in online life and that it is crucial to increase public privacy awareness and promote responsible privacy behavior. By increasing awareness of self-information protection, users are better able to recognize potential privacy risks and take proactive measures to mitigate them. In addition to this, good digital literacy not only safeguards an individual’s digital rights but also allows for the acquisition of more knowledge and skills needed to protect online privacy, understand digital privacy settings, recognize online threats, and manage personal information.

Case study: Google to warn users they can be tracked while in Chrome’s ‘Incognito’ mode.

(Google to Warn Users They Can Be Tracked While in Chrome’s “Incognito” Mode, 2024)

Recently, Google announced that it would be adding a warning to Chrome’s ‘Incognito’ mode, alerting users that they can be tracked while in that mode. While ‘Incognito’ mode promises to enhance privacy by not storing browsing history or cookies locally, and has been widely recognized as protecting user privacy, according to recent research and reports, Google has clarified that tracking of a user’s online activity by websites or ISPs cannot be prevented by this mode. Websites can still use other methods (such as device fingerprinting or IP address tracking) to monitor user behavior, which suggests that even in “incognito mode,” user browsing activity and location information can still be collected and tracked by Google, which creates insecurity about user privacy.

In addition, reports have shown that tech companies collect private information and data from users without their consent and sell it. The companies also resort to marketing tactics to make huge profits and gains by promoting advertisements to the public that cater to the preferences of individual users. Such deceptive practices, which are commercialized for profit, can trigger strong resentment and anger in the community at large, which creates a huge obstacle and negative impact on the effective implementation of existing public privacy protections now and raises serious questions about the need to strengthen the regulation of online privacy data.

(Google to Warn Users They Can Be Tracked While in Chrome’s “Incognito” Mode, 2024)

This announcement triggered a wide public response, demonstrating the limitations of the “Stealth Mode” function. Even in the case of privacy-protected mode, there is still a risk that the public’s privacy will be exposed and infringed upon. As a globally renowned technology company, the purpose of Google’s release of this information is to remind users to raise awareness of the potential risks of privacy leakage and to prompt the public to make more rational choices and judgments on the use and practice of online access and online privacy modes when they receive the news and learn about the actual situation and information, to maximize the protection of their digital rights, and to protect their privacy. digital rights and protect personal privacy data. At the same time, it also shows that the relevant technology companies and online platforms, in the face of a large amount of user data and personal privacy information, need to protect the collection and use of user data and make more changes and initiatives in the act of ensuring the public’s privacy and digital rights. However, when governments and corporations gradually infiltrate users’ online privacy content on a wide scale with the help of surveillance technologies, it also fuels public discontent about the threat to digital rights. Therefore, the protection of users’ personal privacy and digital rights is important and linked to issues such as national online privacy and security, and a balance should be maintained between the two, giving the public more access to and control over their personal privacy information while continuously strengthening the protection of private data.


In conclusion, the topic of privacy and digital rights in the context of digital development is complex and dynamic, and it is a key issue in the governance of the global online environment that requires the concerted efforts of governments, relevant enterprises, and the public to address, and to safeguard the public’s digital rights through the continuous improvement of laws and regulations, the promotion of public awareness, and the adoption of more loss-enhancing data governance practices. Whether it’s the exposure of Google’s tracking in “incognito” mode or other similar enterprise cases involving public privacy and digital rights, they all deserve attention. Based on Huang et al. (2021), Google controls about 90 percent of the Internet search market, and two-thirds of the global social media market is occupied by Facebook, which is the number one social media platform in more than 90 percent of the world’s economies. This suggests that these globally recognized technology network companies control a large and critical amount of user information on the web and that they can play an important role and have a strong ability to protect the cyberspace environment and users’ private information. Behind these cases is the urgency and significance of formulating and implementing comprehensive privacy laws and regulations, and tech companies and the government should actively cooperate to step up efforts to monitor, protect, and manage public privacy data. data monitoring, protection, and management, and take the initiative to assume the responsibility of protecting users’ personal privacy and digital rights. In addition, public education and transparency should not be neglected to raise users’ awareness of protecting the privacy and safeguarding their digital rights and to focus on the cultivation of a digital culture that protects privacy from invasion.

In the future, to better respond to the challenges posed by the rapid development of technological levels in the digital age, there is a greater need to focus on the objectives of digital policy and governance. Privacy and digital rights are designed to help users to be able to exercise control over their personal information and their online status, and a focus on the protection of personal privacy and the establishment of an effective regulatory mechanism with the assistance of the government and the relevant enterprises and organizations is essential. In addition, policymakers must address the multi-complex and diverse issues of surveillance, censorship, and online freedom to ensure that the public’s digital rights are adequately protected in the Internet age. The existence of a democratic and equitable society requires privacy and digital rights to be underpinned. Everyone should uphold these principles and advocate for policies that protect individual autonomy, freedom of expression, and data privacy, while businesses and organizations should responsibly maintain respect for these fundamental rights in the digital age. Overall, critical analyses of the complexity of privacy and digital rights have certain significance and value, and a full understanding of privacy and digital rights can make the definition and boundaries of privacy and digital rights clearer and more transparent. Finally, the public will be prompted to better exercise and safeguard their digital rights under the premise of ensuring that their private information is duly protected and to enjoy the rich content and convenient online experience brought about by digital technology to build a more regulated, ethical, and inclusive digital society.


Domazet, S., & Šušak-Lozanovska, I. (2023). Children’s data and privacy online: Growing up in a digital age. Politika Nacionalne Bezbednosti, 24(1), 153–173.

Filgueiras, F., & Raymond, A. (2023). Designing governance and policy for disruptive digital technologies. Policy Design and Practice, 6(1), 1–13.

Huang, K., Madnick, S., Choucri, N., & Zhang, F. (2021). A Systematic Framework to Understand Transnational Governance for Cybersecurity Risks from Digital Trade. Global Policy, 12(5), 625–638.

Pangrazio, L., & Sefton-Green, J. (2021, January 15). Digital Rights, Digital Citizenship and Digital Literacy: What’s the Difference? Journal of New Approaches in Educational Research, 10(1), 15.

Park, Y. J. (2013). Digital Literacy and Privacy Behavior Online. Communication Research, 40(2), 215–236.

Roberts, A. J. (2015). Privacy, Data Retention and Domination: Digital Rights Ireland v Minister for Communications. SSRN Electronic Journal.

Williamson, B. (2016). Digital education governance: data visualization, predictive analytics, and “real-time” policy instruments. Journal of Education Policy, 31(2), 123–141.


Google to warn users they can be tracked while in Chrome’s “Incognito” mode. (2024, January 20). ABC News.

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