GOOGLE: If You Use Gmail, You Have ‘No Legitimate Expectation Of Privacy’

By on August 14, 2013
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If you happen to be one of the 400 million people who use Google’s Gmail service for sending and receiving emails, you shouldn’t have any expectation of privacy, according to a court briefing obtained by the Consumer Watchdog website.

In a motion filed last month by Google to have a class action complaint dismissed, Google’s lawyers reference a 1979 ruling, holding that people who turn over information to third parties shouldn’t expect that information to remain private.

From the filing (emphasis added):

Just as a sender of a letter to a business colleague cannot be surprised that the recipient’s assistant opens the letter, people who use web-based email today cannot be surprised if their communications are processed by the recipient’s ECS provider in the course of delivery. Indeed, “a person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties.” Smith v. Maryland, 442 U.S. 735, 743-44 (1979). In particular, the Court noted that persons communicating through a service provided by an intermediary (in the Smith case, a telephone call routed through a telephone company) must necessarily expect that the communication will be subject to the intermediary’s systems. For example, the Court explained that in using the telephone, a person “voluntarily convey[s] numerical information to the telephone company and ‘expose[s]’ that information to its equipment in the ordinary course of business.” Id. at 744 (emphasis added).

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