Google GMail and other free email services are now the target of legislation introduced by Californian State Senator Liz Figueroa, who has drafted a bill which would protect users from content spying and snooping email providers. The legislation does not mention Google by name, but the introduction of and controversy surrounding Google GMail was the spark that started this privacy advocate fire.
The legislation is in the form of an amendment to SB.1822. The addition guarantees consumer’s the choice of opting-out from such content targeted advertisements that Google GMail uses to find its free email service.
Google has weighed the option of having GMail users opt-in for AdWords advertisements. Google President and co-founder Sergey Brin told the Wall Street Journal last week that Google “will not make any ‘rash changes’ to the email service which is still being tested by thousands of users.”
A rundown of Figueroa’s legislation:
Existing law prohibits a person or entity located in California from initiating or advertising in unsolicited commercial e-mail advertisements, as defined, and prohibits a person or entity not located in California from initiating or advertising in unsolicited commercial e-mail advertisements sent to a California e-mail address.
This bill would prohibit a provider of e-mail or instant messaging services, as defined, that serves California customers, from reviewing or evaluating the content of a customer’s e-mail or instant messages, except as specified. The bill would permit a provider of e-mail or instant messaging services to review and evaluate the content of a customer’s outgoing e-mail or instant messages with the customer’s consent, and would permit a provider to review and evaluate the content of incoming e-mail or instant messages only from another subscriber to the same service and only when that subscriber has consented to the procedure.
This section does not prevent a provider of e-mail or instant messaging services to California customers from filtering unsolicited e-mail for removing spam or for managing computer viruses or other malicious programs
In addition to Californian legislation there have been some other news making protests of Google’s plans for GMail advertising. On April 6, the World Privacy Forum and 27 other privacy and civil liberties organizations composed an open letter calling upon Google to suspend its Gmail service until the privacy issues are adequately addressed.
Additionally, Privacy International filed the complaints against Google GMail in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Spain, Czech Republic, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Portugal, Poland, Austria, Australia and Canada, and also with the European Commission and the Article 29 Data Protection Working Group.