Data Security

Is Privacy Dead? Google Proudly Says It Scans Your E-Mail

Is Privacy Dead? Google Proudly Says It Scans Your E-Mail
April 15, 2014 1:57PM

Bookmark and Share
Users suing Google over alleged exploitation of private user data cannot do it as a class action because their damage claims are too broad, according to a ruling by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh. At the same time, Koh observed, there were issues with Google's interception of e-mails because it relied on a variety of unclear service agreements.

APC has an established a reputation for solid products that virtually pay for themselves upon installation. Who has time to spend worrying about system downtime? APC makes it easy for you to focus on business growth instead of business downtime with reliable data center systems and IT solutions. Learn more here.

Google has updated its terms of service to clarify that it can scan e-mails for advertising purposes. This practice has been criticized by privacy organizations, users, and other technology companies like Microsoft. Even though users who attempted to file lawsuits against Google were not granted class-action status, a U.S. District Court has ruled that Google's terms of service did need to be reworked.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh's ruling seems to have been behind Google's decision to change its terms of service, though the company has not stated why the changes were implemented.

The Court's Decision

Users suing Google over alleged exploitation of private user data cannot do it as a class action because their damage claims are too broad, according to Koh's ruling in the District Court for the Northern District of California. At the same time, Koh observed there were issues with Google's interception of e-mails because it relied on a variety of service agreements that did not make it clear how user data would be utilized.

The plaintiffs are filing an appeal with the hopes that Koh's decision can be overturned. If the ruling stands, they would have file lawsuits individually or in small groups, which means legal costs could outweigh any beneficial outcome.

We asked Jeff Kagan, an independent technology analyst, for his view on Google's collection of user data for advertising purposes. He told us that given the fact that Gmail is a free service, users cannot expect that their information will remain private.

"That's one problem with Google Gmail. It's free, but that also means they can stick their noses into your e-mail for whatever reason they want." Kagan said. "I think users expect privacy, but if they want privacy they should not look to Google or their free e-mail service, Gmail. Privacy is expected when users pay for e-mail. This is free. That's the other side of the coin."

Numerous Complaints

Gmail users in particular have claimed that Google violated state and federal wiretapping laws because the company automatically scans e-mails. By continuously looking at the content of messages, Google is able to adjust advertisements to appeal to a user across any platforms using Google's advertising service.

The class-action lawsuit ruled invalid by Koh could have resulted in Google being forced to pay out billions of dollars. While that specific lawsuit has not been successful, privacy organizations have continued to pressure Google to change its policies.

In the updated terms of service, Google specifically states it is able to collect data from e-mails.

"Our automated systems analyze your content (including e-mails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customized search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection," the new provision says. "This analysis occurs as the content is sent, received, and when it is stored."

Tell Us What You Think
Comment:

Name:

Angela:

Posted: 2014-04-22 @ 4:12am PT
Is it right that, just because the service is free, people can expect their private communications to be violated? That is very wonky reasoning. A consequence of looking at everything in the world through a commercial lens.

MARY IRVINE:

Posted: 2014-04-16 @ 6:44am PT
I get very fustrated with gmail anyway because everytime I change my password or use a different computer I get locked out of my email, so I now have another email that is not gmail. Its free and no stupid adds! Unfortunatly my internet provider does not provide an email.



 Data Security
1. Juniper DDoS for High-IQ Networks
2. Google Hacker Team to Hunt Bugs
3. Cloud Firms Offer Azure Starter Kit
4. FBI Cyber-Expert's Humble Start
5. Chinese Hackers Hit U.S. Officials




 Most Popular Articles
1. Experts Say Four Threats Put Internet Freedom at Risk
2. Gartner Rates Security Solutions in Annual Magic Quadrant Report
3. Google I/O Conference Brings a Lot for Businesses
4. IBM Earmarks $3B for Next-Gen Cloud Computing Chips
5. Focus on Security in New Dell Products, Upgrades

Have an informed opinion on this story?
Send a Letter to the Editor.
We want to know what you think.
Send us your Feedback.

 Related Topics  Latest News & Special Reports

  Dropbox for Business Boosts Security
  Juniper DDoS for High-IQ Networks
  Seagate Unveils Networked Drives
  Google Hacker Team to Hunt Bugs
  Cloud Firms Offer Azure Starter Kit

 Technology Marketplace
Big Data
Unlock your enterprise data's potential. Learn how in the research report.
Are you getting everything you can out of your business data?
 
Business Intelligence
Get real-time, cloud-based information services with Neustar.
 
CIO Issues
Secure and retain skilled technology professionals. Learn how.
 
Cloud Computing
Are you getting everything you can out of your business data?
 
Data Storage
Unlock your enterprise data's potential. Learn how in the research report.
 
Enterprise Hardware
Protect your network with APC Smart-UPS battery backup
Cisco UCS Invicta Series flash memory systems
 
Enterprise I.T.
Register for an upcoming ISACA® certification exam today
Secure and retain skilled technology professionals. Learn how.
 
Enterprise Software
Unlock your enterprise data's potential. Learn how in the research report.
 
Hardware
Protect your network with APC Smart-UPS battery backup
Cisco UCS Invicta Series flash memory systems
 
Network Security
Protect your network with APC Smart-UPS battery backup