A federal judge in San Jose has ruled that
Google is obligated to face a lawsuit alleging that the company unlawfully opened and read the contents of emails
sent through Gmail. This conduct is in violation of federal laws prohibiting
Seven lawsuits against Google have been consolidated into one. The court
has concluded that email users have not consented to the reading of emails
for the purposes of providing targeted advertising or creating user profiles.
Google has countered that the emails are automatically scanned by machines
to target specific words used in the messages, but that people are never
involved in directly reading anything. Google claims that this scanning
allows them to provide users with spam and security protection, and is
disappointed with the court’s decision. Google has said in a statement
that it is considering its options.
The judge is allowing Google to throw out claims filed under state law,
but refused to dismiss federal filings. Plaintiffs will, however, be able
to refile any state claims that were dismissed.
Earlier this month, a federal appeals court refused to dismiss another
lawsuit accusing the company of violating wiretapping laws when its fleet
of Street View cars inadvertently swept up passwords, emails, and other
sensitive personal information from unencrypted wireless networks. The
Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that Google could be held
responsible for damages for illegally obtaining personal data from unsuspecting
households while photographing streets for the popular Google Maps service.
Google claims that users agree to have their emails scanned as part of
ordinary business practices.
Internet privacy watchdogs are calling this lawsuit a major victory for