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Google Says Its Gmail Users Have No “Legitimate Expectation” Of Privacy



/ 3 years ago

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According to information obtained at RT.com Google has stated that it thinks its users should never expect data privacy for their emails. The Information that was spotted by the Consumer Watchdog was used by Google to challenge an ongoing litigation. In that litigation Google used an argument that Gmail users should assume any electronic correspondence passed through Google servers can be accessed and used for an array of options including selling adverts to them.

Just as a sender of a letter to a business colleague cannot be surprised that the recipient’s assistant opens the letter, people who use Web-based email today cannot be surprised if their emails are processed by the recipient’s [email provider] in the course of delivery,” the motion reads in part. “Indeed, ‘a person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties.’”

The legal case against Google stated that their procedure of scanning every email was illegal. Google claims it isn’t and it is “in their ordinary course of business.” Furthermore Google claims that its customers “are contractually bound to Google’s terms. Indeed, they devote much of the Complaint to attacking the disclosures in the TOS and Privacy Policy in an effort to avoid this express contractual consent.”

The Consumer Watchdog Privacy Project Director John M Simpson hit back at Google’s business colleague analogy, above, by stating that:

Google’s brief uses a wrong-headed analogy; sending an email is like giving a letter to the Post OfficeI expect the Post Office to deliver the letter based on the address written on the envelope. I don’t expect the mail carrier to open my letter and read it. Similarly when I send an email, I expect it to be delivered to the intended recipient with a Gmail account based on the email address; why would I expect its content will be intercepted by Google and read?”

What are your thoughts on Google’s interpretation of Gmail privacy?

Image courtesy of Google


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  • Alistair Hardy

    The price of being connected is diminished privacy.
    hell, if you think the NSA is bad, think about how much Google knows…
    I by no means support this, i think it’s an invasion of privacy and should be illegal as they are, as stated above, like a post office.
    it has got to the point that my cousin came here from the states and his phone was giving him updates about his flight times even though he never put them into his Google calender. it’s scary tbh
    I’m considering migrating back from chrome to Firefox and i might give either the Mozilla or Ubuntu phone OS’s a whirl.

  • Wayne

    Off course there’s no privacy. There’s also no such thing as a free lunch. Somebody has to pay to keep Gmail free so it falls on the shoulders of the advertiser to cough up.
    Targeted advertising they call it… My butt.

  • bolli

    Personally, I have no issue with a data mining bot going through my emails for targeted advertising.

    I actually get ads aimed at me, for products I might find interesting, rather than constant spam about viagra, porn and sex chats.

  • Syd

    Hey how about taking a look at the google legal document… It’s talking about non-gmail users in a black and bold header…

    • No it’s not –

      “Here, all Plaintiffs who are Gmail users consented to the automated scanning of their emails (including for purposes of delivering targeted advertising) in exchange for using the Gmail service”

      “In addition to these contractual terms, Google also provides a variety of disclosures throughout its website and within Gmail itself explaining that automated processing is applied toGmail messages and that email content is scanned to deliver targeted ads”

      Those quotes come directly from Google’s legal motion in this case, referring directly to Gmail users and the Gmail service.

      • Syd

        Everyone has been bitching about the part from and pulling it out on context across the web in articles.

        “B. 4. The Non-Gmail Plaintiffs Also Impliedly Consent to the Automated Processing of Their Messages”

        • The document refers to both gmail and non-gmail users because google has to send messages from gmail users and receive messages from non-gmail users. The fact remains that Google scans all messages that pass through Gmail servers, they specifically state that themselves.

          • Syd

            This was a known fact years ago back when gmail was in it’s very first beta invite stage. They had targeted ads way back then already using keywords from emails. It’s not the first nor the last to automatically scan as it passes through their public email servers. The email protocol is far from secure and that’s part of the reason encrypted email sites have been popping up over the last 10 years(companies like lavabit in the news)

  • ET3D

    I very much don’t like the idea that a gmail user can’t expect privacy. I have no problem with scanning my mails and delivering targeted ads, but the general notion that my content isn’t private because it’s in someone else’s hands should not even be implied, let alone specifically stated.