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Google spews out 'privacy' email to Sky punters too

Not just Virgin Media customers fuming over web giant's intrusion

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Sky users have joined Virgin Media subscribers in receiving emails directly from Google about its new privacy policy.

Sky customers received the email from the Chocolate Factory warning them about the controversial changes to its privacy policy, which was quickly followed by an email from Sky about the error.

"We understand that you may have recently received an email to this address from Google with the subject title: 'Changes to Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service'," the email read.

"We'd like to apologise for any confusion this email may have caused. It was sent in error and should be ignored.

"Google's technology supports the Sky email service, and hence supports your @sky.com address. However, as a @sky.com email subscriber, your only relationship is with Sky. Please be reassured that Sky's Terms and Conditions and Privacy Notice apply and not Google's."

However, the thing that most people are taking issue with is how Google had their email address in the first place and what other uses the search giant might be putting those addresses to.

In a FAQ section on the erroneous email, Sky explained that Google had to have everyone's email address to provide email services to Sky, but the address was the only information the Chocolate Factory had and it hadn't shared it with anyone else.

A Virgin Media spokesperson said the same thing to The Register.

"All Google literally has is an email address that they provision to us," he said, adding that the firm needed to know these addresses so it could allocate storage to each address.

He also confirmed that Virgin Media's privacy policy superseded Google's so customers would not be affected by the changes.

A Google spokesperson said that the Chocolate Factory was busy informing all its customers about its policy changes, including the administrators of enterprise organisations using Google Apps.

"If an enterprise organisation uses Google Apps to provide email to its own employees or customers, Google is contacting only the administrator at that organisation because it has a contract that defines how we handle and store their data," the spokesperson said.

"Due to a glitch in our system, we misclassified some Google Apps email accounts as consumer Gmail accounts and mistakenly sent these users email notifications about the Privacy Policy. While Google provides the backend service that powers these users’ email accounts, we do not have any direct relationship with these users and contacted them in error." ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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