Google is either lying to the court or lying to the public, Consumer Watchdog said today, after the Internet giant made new public claims asserting it respects users’ privacy–claims that are starkly contradicted by an earlier court filing it would probably prefer you not see. Google told Consumer Watchdog on Wednesday that ‘we take our users’ privacy and security very seriously…We have built industry-leading security and privacy features in Gmail." But in a motion to dismiss a class action suit filed in the case of Smith vs. Maryland (442 U.S. 735, 743-44 (1979)” [Motion to dismiss, Page 19] it stated: "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."
On the one hand, it guarantees email privacy. On the other hand it says a user of web-based email such as Gmail ‘has no legitimate expectation of privacy.’
“Google simply cannot be allowed to have it both ways, saying whatever suits them at the moment,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project director.
Google made the statement that people can’t expect privacy when sending a message to a Gmail address in a response to a class action complaint filed in multi-district litigation. The suit says Google violates federal and state wiretap laws when the company reads and analyzes emails.
The class action complaint was filed under seal because it details many of Google’s business practices about the way it handles email. A highly redacted version of the complaint was filed publicly. To read it, click here.
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