Does Gmail Break The Law?

from the that-wouldn't-be-good dept

Going beyond even the concerns of some that Google’s new Gmail email service is creepy, there are some who are claiming that it violates the EU’s strict data privacy laws. They say that because Google doesn’t actually delete emails that people delete, and because machines scan the email to place ads (and relevant search results, apparently) in the emails, it violates laws concerning opening and deleting emails. Of course, I wonder how many email services really delete emails when the user tries to delete the message. While I do believe privacy issues are important, it still seems like people are going a bit overboard on this. If they don’t want to use Gmail, there are thousands of other options. It’s not as if Google has announced that all email must run through Google. This is a tradeoff situation, where you get to use Google email in exchange for the ads. For many, many people, I’d bet that seems like a fair tradeoff.

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Comments on “Does Gmail Break The Law?”

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Bakaneko says:

No Subject Given

I think it’s more the case that people don’t care until they do… I.E. I bet there are plenty of people who’ll sign up for said service, use it happily for a while, until that ONE email comes in. You know, the one you might get subpoena’d for, or that your ex is going to bring up at the divorce hearings, or what have you…

Then they’ll care. It’s probably best that it gets brought to their attention right from the get go.

Chris Wuestefeld says:

What is "deleting"

I wonder what the legal definition of deletion really is. I mean, Windows doesn’t actually destroy all physical traces of a file when it’s deleted; it just marks it as deleted, and in many cases it’s trivial to resurrect. I’m sure this is analogous to what Google is warning, so could it be that Windows is already illegal?

aNonMooseCowherd says:

Re: What is "deleting"

IANAL but my guess that the distinction is over who controls the data, not the difficulty of retrieving it. If you delete email on your personal machine, then it’s your own problem if you do it in such a way that the data is easy to resurrect. If it’s a question of Google failing to delete your email on their computer, then it’s outside of your control and it becomes their potential liability.

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