Google sued for scanning email of non-Gmail users

A bloke from Texas has fileda federal lawsuit against Google claiming the company has no right to ferret through emails sent to users of its Gmail service

He says the fact that it does violates the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986.

Keith Dunbar of Bowie County, Texas, complains that emails he may send to Gmail users are scanned by Google algorithms. As Dunbar is not a Gmail user he says he has not given Google his consent to scan his messages.

"No consent from non-Gmail account holders is given prior to Google using the content of non-Gmail account holders for the purpose of delivering targeted ads and other related information to Gmail account holders," the complaint, filed in US District court in Texarkana, Texas, says.

"Google does not inform non-Gmail account holders that it scans the content of their emails for the purpose of delivering targeted text ads and other related information to Gmail account holders."

Dunbar is seeking class-action status for his suit. He also wants damages of $100 a day for each violation or $10,000, whichever is greater.

Google says its web-based email service scans messages in search of spam and viruses and the like, which may be true but scanning for content and making money out of the content by placing ads next to it may well be a different kettle of fish.

According to Google's Gmail privacy policy, "Using Gmail does not violate the privacy of senders since no one other than the recipient is allowed to read their email messages, and no one but the recipient sees targeted ads and related information."