Google har, i et forsøg på at undgå en retssag om krænkelse af privatlivets fred, erklæret til retten, at brugere af Gmail ikke med rimelighed kan forvente, at deres kommunikation er privat.
The Guardian skriver:
People sending email to any of Google’s 425 million Gmail users have no “reasonable expectation” that their communications are confidential, the internet giant has said in a court filing.
Consumer Watchdog, the advocacy group that uncovered the filing, called the revelation a “stunning admission.” It comes as Google and its peers are under pressure to explain their role in the National Security Agency’s (NSA) mass surveillance of US citizens and foreign nationals.
“Google has finally admitted they don’t respect privacy,” said John Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s privacy project director. “People should take them at their word; if you care about your email correspondents’ privacy, don’t use Gmail.”
Google set out its case last month in an attempt to dismiss a class action lawsuit that accuses the tech giant of breaking wire tap laws when it scans emails sent from non-Google accounts in order to target ads to Gmail users.
That suit, filed in May, claims Google “unlawfully opens up, reads, and acquires the content of people’s private email messages”. It quotes Eric Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman: “Google policy is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it.”
The suit claims: “Unbeknown to millions of people, on a daily basis and for years, Google has systematically and intentionally crossed the ‘creepy line’ to read private email messages containing information you don’t want anyone to know, and to acquire, collect, or mine valuable information from that mail.”
In its motion to dismiss the case, Google said the plaintiffs were making “an attempt to criminalise ordinary business practices” that have been part of Gmail’s service since its introduction. Google said “all users of email must necessarily expect that their emails will be subject to automated processing.”
Simpson, a long-term Google critic, said: “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?”
På en måde er der ikke noget nyt i det – det har altid været sådan, at systemadministratorer kunne være nødt til at åbne emails af rent tekniske årsager, hvis der for eksempel opstod en fejl på systemet. Emails har af den grund altid skullet betragtes som åbne postkort, medmindre de er krypteret.
Men derfra og så til systematisk at scanne emails og stille indholdet til rådighed for sine egne systemer, som Google gør, er der alligevel et stykke. Men i lyset af, at NSA alligevel opsnapper og gemmer en kopi af alle de mails, det kommer i nærheden af, er Googles omgang med brugernes data måske blot et eksempel på, hvor udvandet vi har tilladt begrebet “privatliv” at blive i denne vor digitale æra.