Think Your Gmail Is Private? Google Says: Think Again
In defense of the role it plays in the National Security Agency’s (NSA) mass surveillance of U.S. citizens and foreign nationals that has drawn significant criticism, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has successfully dug itself a little deeper. According to The Guardian, in a court filing that was discovered by the advocacy group Consumer Watchdog, Google maintained that Gmail users should have no “reasonable expectation” that their emails are confidential, because the search giant has always maintained that user messages are subject to automated processing, and have been since the service’s founding.
The court filing comes after Google was accused in May of scanning and opening private email messages that help it better cater its ads to appropriate Gmail users. Although Google CEO Eric Schmidt contends that, “Google policy is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it,” the suit charges that the search giant did just that, reading, “Unbeknown to millions of people, on a daily basis and for years, Google has systematically and intentionally crossed the ‘creepy line’ to read private email messages containing information you don’t want anyone to know, and to acquire, collect, or mine valuable information from that mail.”
Google fought back in July, working to dismiss the class action lawsuit by painting the detected email processing as “ordinary business practices,” but when it claimed that people should not expect their emails to be confidential, Consumer Watchdog capitalized on its opportunity to jump down Google’s throat with John Simpson, private project director explaining, highlighted by The Guardian, ”Google has finally admitted that they don’t respect privacy. People should take them at their word; if you care about your email correspondents’ privacy, don’t use Gmail.”