Google GMail: You Have No ‘Legitimate’ Expectation Of Privacy, Company Claims

Google GMail accounts have no legitimate expectation of privacy, according to a brief filed by the company’s attorneys on July 13, 2013.

Consumer Watchdog recently located the motion and made it available to the public. picked it up on Tuesday, and if you’re a privacy buff using the Google GMail service, you may find the report quite disturbing.

In it, attorneys for the Silicon Valley-based Internet giant argue that “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,” adding that “a person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties.”

While the motion goes on to explain Google must scan your email every time you run a search filter or type in a keyword to find a specific message, and that a ruling against it would be a crushing blow to their basic business practices, it’s easy to see beyond the argument to how Google thinks about privacy.

And in light of the Edward Snowden NSA revelations that continue to stream in regarding possible misconduct and invasion of privacy on the part of the National Security Agency, the question remains: if Google doesn’t think you have a “legitimate” expectation of privacy regarding your PASSWORD PROTECTED messages, how hard will they actually fight against unlawful seizures from government entities?

That’s a point Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project Director John M. Simpson alluded to in a statement responding to the motion.

“Google has finally admitted they don’t respect privacy,” Simpson said. “People should take them at their word; if you care about your email correspondents’ privacy don’t use Gmail.”

Simpson continued: “Google’s brief uses a wrong-headed analogy; sending an email is like giving a letter to the Post Office … 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?”

Here’s a look at the brief in full:

Google Motion 061313

Do you think Google GMail users have a “legitimate expectation of privacy”? Will Google’s brief make you rethink who you choose for your webmail provider?


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