Google is taking a lot of heat today after Consumer Watchdog uncovered a brief filed by Google attorney’s on July 13th, 2013 in regards to privacy concerns over the way Google handles users’ emails. In a class action complaint filed against Google to the United States District Court for Northern District of California, Google said that their users should assume that anything electronically sent through Google’s servers is fair game to used for ads, or other purposes.
To put it bluntly, Google says, “a person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties.” It’s Google’s statements found in the brief that have Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project director John M. Simpson so worked up. In a statement to RT, he says,
“…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?”
Before you run and grab your pitchforks, first you’ll need to explore your own definition of privacy. While it’s true Google can use this information for targeted ads, Google maintains that ruling against the scanning of emails would unintentionally criminalize a “host” of normal services like performing searches, or adding filters and labels. Without those, services like Gmail wouldn’t be very useful (and possibly cease to exist).
Of course, there are still those that are wary given recent news of company’s like Google complying with NSA requests — a legitimate concern for sure. While it seems the only real privacy anyone can obtain these days is from a life completely unplugged from the internet, I’m curious to hear your thoughts on Google’s idea of privacy? Should the scanning of emails become illegal, or only when used for ads?
You might remember it was almost 2 years ago when Microsoft took a jab at Google with their Gmail Man spoof. For those that missed, the internal corporate video can be found below.