Rights, Technology

Google’s Gmail scanning unclear to users, judge finds

A US federal judge allowed a class-action suit against Google to proceed, saying the company’s terms of service are unclear when describing how it scans Gmail content in order to deliver advertisements.

Google had filed a motion to dismiss the suit, which alleges that the company intercepted and read email while in transit in order to deliver advertisements and create user profiles and models since 2008. The plaintiffs alleged the company violated federal and state wire-tapping laws.

The suit, which is being heard in US District Court for the Northern District of California, further contends non-Gmail users who sent email to Gmail users were also subject to illegal interception.

In her ruling Thursday, US District Judge Lucy H Koh wrote that Google’s terms of service and privacy policies do not explicitly say that the company intercepts users’ email to create user profiles or deliver targeted advertising.

Although Google revised its terms of service and privacy policy in 2012, Koh wrote 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 — via redwolf.newsvine.com

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