Google has filed a court brief to contest allegations and to move a motion to dismiss a class action complain filed against the company in a multi-district litigation. The complaint was filed by a group of Gmail users who were worried about the implications of automated email scanning, and the uncanny relationship between ads and the contents of an email. In the brief, and in an official statement, Gmail has gone on to describe that none of its users should expect any kind of privacy, anonymity or security while using any Google services, mainly Gmail. This news was first brought about by Consumer Watchdog.
The official statement from Google reads: “Just as a sender of a letter to a business colleague cannot be surprised that the recipient’s assistant opens the letter, people who use web-based email today cannot be surprised if their emails are processed by the recipient’s [email provider] in the course of delivery. Indeed, a person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties.”
Google has sought the help of the “Third Party Doctrine” to enhance and ascertain their claims in court. The Third Party Doctrine is simply a statement that states that any party who willing discloses information to third parties cannot expect any privacy of information shared; and that he/she is willingly taking the risk of information disclosure at the time of sharing any and all information.
While the Third Party Doctrine in itself is subject to controversy, Google goes on to claim that non-Gmail users who send and receive emails to and from Gmail should also not expect any privacy of messages or email content, and all emails sent through Gmail servers can and will be scanned as well as read by Google.
It is safe to assume that Google is not worried about user privacy, neither are they worried about any class action lawsuits that may come their way. In their official statements, Google has given clear signs that they don’t respect user’s privacy, and that they will continue with the practice of scanning emails for their own profit. Google has been at the forefront of scanning emails and monetizing their users by targeting ads relevant to email content, user behavior, click through patterns and general user behavior. Google has also taken a jab at other email users that send emails to Gmail, stating that any content that reaches Gmail is scanned and read by Google.
Gmail is not alone in its venture, as almost all free Email service providers that offer ‘free’ services usually mine user data for their own profit. Google is a large company that derives its revenue from advertisements, which just goes on to prove that nothing is actually free. In return for services like Gmail, Analytics, Apps, Drive and other free services, Google will always track user information and mine personal data by scanning emails and using keywords to target relevant ads.
These facts further points to the reality that emails can be accessed by anyone who has a master access. For instance, employers, ISPs, law enforcement agencies such as NSA, FBI or CIA, can all read your emails and scan your content indiscriminately. You can choose paid email services, but that doesn’t guarantee complete privacy or anonymity. Hence, it makes sense for regular internet users to utilize free email services such as Gmail, which alone boasts more than 400 million users.
If you do care about your privacy, and if you want your letters to be secure, anonymous and truly private, you should try sending it by mail physically. At least it guarantees that no one will actually open your mail and read the contents without a proper warrant.