Google defends its practice of reading emails to serve ads

Google’s attorneys are saying that the practice of electronically scanning emails located in users’ Gmail accounts to serve targeted ads is absolutely legal and are asking the federal judge to reject the lawsuit filed against the company, which is requesting a ban on the practice.

At a federal hearing today in San Jose, California, Google defended its stand saying that users of its email service must expect that their emails will be subject to automated processing – content scanning to be precise.

The lawsuit which was filed in May earlier this year claimed that Google “unlawfully opens up, reads, and acquires the content of people’s private email messages”, which is a complete violation of privacy laws and federal wiretapping statutes of California. The lawsuit also claims that Google even scans the emails sent to Gmail users from email services other than Gmail and users of such third-party email services have never agreed to the terms set forth by Google.

Google has already illustrated the entire process of how the company targets its word based advertising which shows up in Gmail messages. For instance, if someone receives a lot of recipes or messages related to cooking, the user might get served ads from a local cookery shop. According to Mountain View based company, the entire process is automated and no employees of Google or in fact “no humans” read users’ emails.

In a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, company’s attorneys have argued that “This case involves Plaintiffs’ effort to criminalize ordinary business practices that have been part of Google’s free Gmail service since it was introduced nearly a decade ago”.