Feeds

Google sued for scanning emails of non-Gmail users

Electronic Communications Privacy Act violation alleged

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Intelligent flash storage arrays

A Texas man has fired a legal broadside against Gmail in a federal lawsuit that claims the Google service violates the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986.

Keith Dunbar of Bowie County, Texas, claims that emails he sent from a non-Gmail service to Gmail users were scanned by Google algorithms without his consent. The algorithms are designed to serve Gmail users targeted ads based on the content of messages they receive.

“No consent from non-Gmail account holders is given prior to Google using the content of non-Gmail account holders for the purpose of delivering targeted ads and other related information to Gmail account holders,” the complaint, filed in US District court in Texarkana, Texas, stated. “Google does not inform non-Gmail account holders that it scans the content of their emails for the purpose of delivering targeted text ads and other related information to Gmail account holders.”

The complaint is seeking class-action status so other non-Gmail users may also joint the action. It seeks damages of $100 a day for each violation or $10,000, whichever is greater, and the disgorgement of profits made by Google as a result of the Gmail scanning.

“We haven't received a formal complaint and can't comment on specifics,” a Google spokesman wrote in an email on Monday. “To be clear though, Gmail – like most webmail providers – uses automatic scanning to fight against spam and viruses. We use similar technology to show advertisements that help keep our services free.  This is how Gmail has always worked.”

Indeed, internet law expert Eric Goldman, a professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, told InformationWeek that there were numerous calls to investigate Google for such behavior in 2004. “Frankly, after all the furor died down a half-decade ago, I had assumed everyone had moved on long ago,” he told the publication.

Google's Gmail privacy policy seems also to take issue with the lawsuit's claims. Among other things, it states in bold letters:

“Using Gmail does not violate the privacy of senders since no one other than the recipient is allowed to read their email messages, and no one but the recipient sees targeted ads and related information.” ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Be real, Apple: In-app goodie grab games AREN'T FREE – EU
Cupertino stands down after Euro legal threats
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
Microsoft: Your Linux Docker containers are now OURS to command
New tool lets admins wrangle Linux apps from Windows
Bada-Bing! Mozilla flips Firefox to YAHOO! for search
Microsoft system will be the default for browser in US until 2020
Facebook, working on Facebook at Work, works on Facebook. At Work
You don't want your cat or drunk pics at the office
Soz, web devs: Google snatches its Wallet off the table
Killing off web service in 3 months... but app-happy bonkers are fine
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.