Attorneys for Google (GOOG) are asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit against the company for its practice of scanning users’ Gmail accounts so that it may better tailor and sell contend ads.
Court papers filed in advance of today’s hearing state that “all users of email must necessarily expect that their emails will be subject to automated processing.”
The class action lawsuit, filed in May, says Google “unlawfully opens up, reads, and acquires the content of people’s private email messages” in violation of California’s privacy laws and federal wiretapping statutes. The lawsuit notes that the company even scans messages sent to any of the 425 million active Gmail users from non-Gmail users who never agreed to the company’s terms.
Google has repeatedly described how it targets its advertising based on words that show up in Gmail messages. For example, the company says if someone has received a lot of messages about photography or cameras then it might display an advertisement from a local camera store. Google says the process is fully automated, “and no humans read your email…”
Consumer Watchdog, the group that filed the suit, says people do not expect their private accounts to be searched.