Will Advertisers Sue Google To See Your Email?

from the seems-to-take-the-argument-a-bit-far dept

The misplaced hype over Gmail’s potential legal problems for putting up contextual ads in your email seems to have thankfully died down. However, Mark Rasch, over at Security Focus is trying to dig it back up again with a somewhat more thoughtful piece about whether or not Gmail breaks existing laws by scanning emails without the permission of the sender as well. It seems like a stretch – and about the best that can be said is that some of the wording of older laws may need to be adjusted to take into account the concept of email. Otherwise, it doesn’t seem like there’s a real problem here. However, as an aside, he does bring up an interesting (if unlikely) possibility. What if an advertiser feels that Google is lying about inserting their ads, or believes that Google is inserting competitor’s ads instead? Could they then subpoena your emails in order to prove the point? This would, obviously, violate your privacy through no action of your own doing. However, this seems like a huge stretch. First, I’m sure that Google’s contract makes it clear that they’re not required to put in an ad in all circumstances, so there would be little legal recourse for a company. Second, since the ads are placed on the fly, there’s no specific reason why anyone’s email should be subpoenaed. The ads are not associated with the email itself – but that particular viewing of the email. So, gaining access to the emails won’t show the same ads that were originally placed and will do nothing to prove the legal case one way or the other.

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Comments on “Will Advertisers Sue Google To See Your Email?”

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Bt Garner says:

No Subject Given

It’s no difference than using a SPAM filter to sort through your incoming mail. And since it’s my inbox that you are sending to, then I am the one who says who can and cannot filter it. The sender has no say in it, sice they are not paying for it, I am.

(I mean paying in the sense of both literally paying for my inbox, and also as in using an email that someone else has paid for that I have agreed to their terms to use).

toontoon says:

No Subject Given

“First, I’m sure that Google’s contract makes it clear that they’re not required to put in an ad in all circumstances”

If an advertiser is paying per insert and the dispute is about how many inserts were done, then I would think that google would be required to prove that they did indeed insert the amount of times they charged their customer. If google charges company x for 10 inserts, then, yes, google IS required to have inserted 10 times.

I would think it is reasonable to assume google can and should provide some proof that they are delivering what they say they are. Otherwise, what would prevent them from claiming and charging for inserts that arent done?

NOBODY (user link) says:

No Subject Given

An added note:
This is something that could be easily fixed in google’s TOS. Also, whoever wrote the article has never read the existing adwords tos. Google in no way garauntees that your ad won’t be shown with a competitor’s ads. They explicitely mention that. They might already cover gmail in their privacy policy. If not, they easily could. This article is almost certainly moot.

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