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Google May Be Violating Wiretap Law, Judge Says

| 27 Sep 2013 16:50
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A federal judge questions Google's privacy policy with regards to collection of contents in emails.

A federal judge is allowing a lawsuit against Google to move forward thanks to an absent piece of information in Google's privacy policy. Judge Lucy Koh said a "reasonable" Gmail user would not understand the company's email-scanning process. Google's automated scanning is used for spam filters, building user profiles, and targeting advertisements, the company stated. Koh replied that the company's privacy policy says nothing about Google collecting information between Gmail users or between Gmail users and non-Gmail users.

She ruled the "alleged interceptions are neither instrumental to the provision of email services, nor are they an incidental effect of providing these services."

John Smith, Consumer Watchdog's privacy project director, explained, "The ruling means federal and state wiretap laws apply to the internet. It's a tremendous victory for online privacy. Companies like Google can't simply do whatever they want with out data and emails."

It would be wrong to assume that Google is the only company that scans emails to collect information for advertisements. This ruling has the potential to impact many other companies' policies.

Google was "disappointed" with the ruling, said spokesman Matt Kallman. "Automated scanning lets us provide Gmail users with security and spam protection, as well as great features like Priority Inbox." The company also argued that users have already consented to email scanning in the end user agreement, giving Google free use of users' content.

Source: Washington Post

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