Privacy Complaint Filed With EU Over Gmail

    April 7, 2004

Google’s launch of Gmail has hit a potential snag when a privacy group filed a complaint with British authorities claiming that Gmail violates EU’s privacy standards.

The issues with Gmail come from Google’s intention of using targeted ads within emails. The company has an automated service that scans the email and then places contextual ads based on the content of the mailing.

Another point of contention is that Google may retain users email even after they are deleted. This policy stated within Gmail’s terms of use page.

Speaking to International Herald Tribune through Reuters, Simon Davies, director of Privacy International, said, “consumers should be aware that there’s a vast violation of European law occurring here.” European laws concerning privacy are much stricter than the policies in the United States.

Google has stated that people would not be reading the emails. It plans to use computers to automate the task. Maurice Westerling, co-founder of Bits of Freedom, a Netherlands-based interest group, said, “if a person deletes an e-mail, he should be confident that the e-mail is actually deleted. Besides, Google cannot just open e-mails.”

Recently, government-backed privacy groups in Germany and Sweden have blocked services that store personal information on computers based in the US.

A rebuttal by Steve Linford, founder of the anti-spam group Spamhaus Project, pointed out “if the consumer is aware of the terms of service, that counts as a private agreement between the two parties.”

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