London - People using Google’s email service should not expect privacy, the internet giant is arguing.
Its lawyers said anyone communicating via Gmail had no right to complain if the company used the contents for targeted adverts.
It was like someone sending a letter and a business colleague opening it for them, they argued in court.
Google makes around £25-billion a year, mostly from advertising.
A class action lawsuit, filed in a district court in San Jose, California, accuses Google of breaching wiretapping laws by scanning emails sent to Gmail and using the details to dictate advertising.
In a bid to dismiss the case, which is ongoing, Google lawyers quoted from a previous Supreme Court case, Smith v. Maryland, saying "a person has no legitimate expectation of privacy when turning over information voluntarily to third parties".
Google said: “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 cannot be surprised if their emails are processed by the recipient’s (email provider).”
John Simpson, of US campaign group Consumer Watchdog, said the analogy was “wrong-headed”, adding: “Sending an email is like giving a letter to the Post Office. I expect the Post Office to deliver the letter based on the address. I don’t expect the postman to open my letter and read it.” - Daily Mail
On publishing the article on IOL, Google had this to say: "We take our users’ privacy and security very seriously; recent reports claiming otherwise are simply untrue."
"We have built industry-leading security and privacy features into Gmail - and no matter who sends an email to a Gmail user, those protections apply."