Controversy over Gmail’s targeted advertising is alight again with a new class-action filed alleging that Google’s e-mail system violates federal wiretap law. Michaels v. Google, Inc., 11-cv-107 (EDTX, filed March 8, 2011). Mediapost reports:
Google has not yet responded to a request for comment about Michaels’ lawsuit. But the company says in an online privacy statement that its scanning process “is completely automated and involves no humans.” The company adds: “Neither email content nor any personal information is ever shared with other parties as a result of our ad-targeting process.”
The company also argues that scanning emails is necessary and, therefore, falls within an exception to the wiretap law. “Providing targeted ads to account holders is a necessary and fundamental aspect of Google’s aim to better serve its Gmail customers,” the company says.
Additionally, it will be interesting to see whether the Federal Wiretap Act, 18 USC 2510, is interpreted to cover “automated scanning” such as the kind Gmail employs.
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