“All users of email must necessarily expect that their emails will be subject to automated processing.” This was Google’s comment during a class action lawsuit that was filed against the corporation, which has been under attack ever since the National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance scandal.
The lawsuit, which was filed in May, accuses Google of breaking surveillance laws and infiltrates peoples privacy by scanning millions of people’s emails. So what exactly does it mean to scan emails? Well, according to DailyTech, “when someone from a different service emails one of Gmail’s 425 million users, Google opens that message and scans it looking for keywords.” Then, that information is sent to advertising companies, which will then bombard your search engine.
It is no secret that Google and many other search engines make their money by selling advertisement space on the internet. According to Google, the corporation picks up on key words that are used over and over again in emails and messaging, and then takes that information and targets their ads by those key words. However, Google claims that the scanning process is all automated and that humans don’t actually read the emails.
The most disturbing aspect that came out during the court case is that the emails being scanned are not from Gmail account holders, which means they did not agree to Google’s legal terms. This only adds to the speculation of the role that Google played with the NSA, which revealed that they read millions of U.S. citizen’s emails.
While some expect to have limited privacy on the internet, at what point do people start demanding rights for privacy? Sure, most young people wouldn’t care if their emails were read, they wouldn’t find much. Emails to professors, shipping confirmations, and once in awhile, a reminder notice from the bank. However, while this issue can be blown off as no big deal, it will only take a certain amount of time for the scanning of emails to turn in to something larger.
The point is, it is our right to know that what we do in private, stays private. It’s wrong for large corporations to profit off of snooping through people’s emails, especially if it means more obnoxious pop-up ads covering the screen. Not to mention it is insulting that Google claims that the public shouldn’t be surprised that their emails are being read and used.
We live in a society and age where privacy is becoming even rarer. Some of it is by choice, like when we post statuses and tweets, but some of it is unintentional on our part. Whistleblowers like Edward Snowden do society a favor by keeping the government and corporations in check and letting the public know when our rights are being infringed upon. It seems that many are mistaken in thinking that there is a shred of trust between consumers and corporations, and it is important that we as consumers know our rights and when they are being trodden on.