A British Columbia man has filed a lawsuit against Gmail, demanding $500 in damages per
email and an injunction to stop the popular email service from scanning user’s emails in order to deliver targeted ads. He insists that Google is violating the Privacy Act, infringing copyright and breaching the Competition Act.
He’s doesn’t even have a Gmail account, he is simply angry about having his emails to Gmail users scanned. What he doesn’t seem to understand is that no human at Google looks at the emails sent and received by Gmail users. It’s all a completely computerized and automated process that looks for specific keywords, nothing more.
The suit sounds frivolous but bears watching. Should the man win, it could mean anti-spam software manufacturers will have their products outlawed. Those types of software use the same technology Gmail does, only they look for keywords known to be used often in spam messages and use that data to flag suspicious messages and either block them, blacklist the sender’s domain/IP, or send them to a junk folder.
“If electronic scrutiny of private email constitutes an interception then all anti-spam software violates that as well…the same probably with virus checkers,” Santa Clara University School of Law professor Eric Goldman said. “In the US I consider similar lawsuits to be dead on arrival,” Goldman said. “They have no merit. I can’t speak to Canadian laws.”
Do you think there is any need for concern? Personally I think the suit will be thrown out of court. Google isn’t harvesting, saving, or selling data from Gmail user’s accounts, and that means no privacy violations. I think it’s just a guy hoping to get a nice payday from Google. Do you agree?