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Google says Gmail users have ‘no legitimate expectation of privacy’

Pete Zaborszky

Pete Zaborszky

August 16, 2013

gmail spyHidden away in a brief filed recently in a federal court (unearthed by Consumer Watchdog), Google lawyers openly argued that users could not expect privacy when using their Gmail service.

“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.’”

While many privacy activists have known or at least suspected this for some time, such a blatent admission remains somewhat shocking.

John Simpson, Consumer Watchdog Privacy Project director warned that ‘Google has finally admitted they don’t respect privacy, People should take them at their word; if you care about your email correspondents’ privacy don’t use Gmail,’ adding that,

Google’s brief uses a wrong-headed analogy… I expect the Post Office to deliver the letter based on the address written on the envelope. I don’t expect the mail carrier to open my letter and read it. Similarly when I send an email, I expect it to be delivered to the intended recipient with a Gmail account based on the email address; why would I expect its content will be intercepted by Google and read?”

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