October 13, 2012
Gmail Users Accuse Google Of Snooping Through Their Emails
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
Users of Google's Gmail web-based email service are accusing the Mountain View, California-based company of unlawfully snooping through their email messages.According to reports published by RT.com on Friday lead plaintiffs Brad Scott and Todd Harrington are accusing Google of violating California´s Invasion of Privacy Act (CIPA).
The website explains that Scott and Harrington believe that the web-based service "conducts clandestine scans of emails for words and content, intentionally intercepting private communiquÃ© as a result without obtaining the user´s permission. Google, on the other hand, maintains that only computers complete all the legwork and that no humans actually have their eyes on any emails, also insisting that neither Mr. Scott nor Mr. Harrington can back up their claims that any action from Gmail has led to injury."
Representatives from the company have asked the justice in charge of the case, US District Judge Lucy Koh, to dismiss all charges, claiming that the plaintiffs cannot explicitly prove that their messages are, in fact, being automatically monitored by Gmail, nor can they prove that they have been harmed in any way as a direct result of Gmail's activities. Google representatives said that all of the service's scans are meant to prevent spam and the transmission of malware, and that at no point in the process do actual people view the contents of the emails.
"Google also argues that California's privacy statutes are not intended to address emails or other electronic communications; that the plaintiffs are Alabama and Maryland citizens who do not allege that their emails have any connection to California; and that the plaintiffs failed to cite additional elements of the act related to wiretapping and eavesdropping," noted Courthouse News Service reporter Jonny Bonner.
Judge Koh is expected to hear arguments in the case on March 21 of next year.
In related news, RT.com also reported Friday that a group of 11 Congressional Republicans, including Representative Fred Upton of Michigan and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, have sent a letter to President Barack Obama to voice their displeasure over a proposed executive order that would allow Google and other third-party Internet firms to openly share data sent over the web by users with the federal government.
“An executive order exerting influence over critical infrastructure is not just a step in the wrong substantive direction,” the letter said, according to the website.. “It will almost certainly be exploited by other nations to justify their efforts to regulate the Internet. This is a most critical time, and we cannot afford a hasty, unilateral action that will only serve to bolster the efforts of less democratic nations to stifle the very free exchange of ideas and expression that has allowed the Internet to flourish across the globe. For these reasons, we urge you to rethink the wisdom of an executive order.”