A federal judge in San Jose, CA., today rejected Google's claims that
wiretapping laws do not apply to its Gmail business and that Google
must face a lawsuit for illegally opening and reading the contents of
email sent through its Gmail service.
In rejecting all but two of the Internet giant?s motions to dismiss a
class action suit, Judge Lucy Koh ruled that reading emails is not a
necessary part of Google's business operations and that California's
Invasion of Privacy Laws apply to opening and reading online
communications without consent.
"Google's alleged interceptions are neither instrumental to the
provision of email services, nor are they an incidental effect of
providing these services. The Court therefore finds that Plaintiffs
have plausibly alleged that the interceptions fall outside Google's
ordinary course of business," wrote Judge Koh.
Judge Koh also found that the Google's Terms of Service and Privacy
Polices did not inform users about the Gmail interceptions. She
"The Court finds, however, that those policies did not explicitly
notify Plaintiffs that Google would intercept users' emails for the
purposes of creating user profiles or providing targeted advertising ...
"The Court therefore finds that a reasonable Gmail user who read the
Privacy Policies would not have necessarily understood that her
emails were being intercepted to create user profiles or to provide
targeted advertisements. Accordingly, the Court finds that it cannot
conclude at this phase that the new policies demonstrate that Gmail
user Plaintiffs consented to the interceptions."
Judge Koh gave the plaintiffs permission to amend and re-file the two
claims she dismissed.
Google says it automatically scans emails to target advertising based
on words that appear in Gmail messages but says that machines, not
people, do the scanning.
"We're disappointed in this decision and are considering our
options," Google said. "Automated scanning lets us provide Gmail
users with security and spam protection, as well as great features."