The complaint objects to Google's automated e-mail scans and delivery of advertisements without compensating e-mail senders.
Attorneys representing Texas resident Keith Dunbar on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against Google alleging that Gmail violates the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986.
The lawsuit was filed in the Eastern District of Texas, a venue more frequently noted for patent infringement complaints. The issue in this particular case is the way that Gmail scans the content of e-mail messages to serve targeted ads.
The complaint objects to Gmail's use of information in e-mail messages sent to Gmail accounts by those who don't use Gmail.
"Google intercepts and uses the information from non-Gmail account holders without regard to the privacy or proprietary nature of the information," the complaint states. "As result of Google's actions intercepting non-Gmail account holders' e-mail, Google obtains a monetary benefit without the consent of the Class members and without compensation to them."
This is not a new objection and isn't ikely to trouble Google's legal department much. Eric Goldman, associate professor of law at Santa Clara University School of Law, characterizes the complaint as an "are-you-kidding-me? lawsuit" on his blog.
"[T]he topic was exhaustively debated when Gmail first publicly launched in 2004," said Goldman in an e-mail. "There were numerous calls on government agencies to investigate Google, and Cal. Sen. Figueroa proposed anti-Gmail legislation in the California legislature. Frankly, after all the furor died down a half-decade ago, I had assumed everyone had moved on long ago."
"We haven't received a formal complaint and can't comment on specifics," a Google spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement. "To be clear though, Gmail -- like most Web mail providers -- uses automatic scanning to fight against spam and viruses. We use similar technology to show advertisements that help keep our services free. This is how Gmail has always worked."
Google argues that e-mail recipients have the right to view e-mail messages using the service of their choosing and that on the Internet senders are not required to consent to automated scanning, which every e-mail provider does, for security purposes if nothing else.
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security EnterpriseTo learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
2017 State of IT ReportIn today's technology-driven world, "innovation" has become a basic expectation. IT leaders are tasked with making technical magic, improving customer experience, and boosting the bottom line -- yet often without any increase to the IT budget. How are organizations striking the balance between new initiatives and cost control? Download our report to learn about the biggest challenges and how savvy IT executives are overcoming them.