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Google, Yahoo sued for preemptive reading of email to serve ads

google_yahoo_email_privacy_ad_serving_gmailGoogle and Yahoo have been sued in the state of California for intercepting emails and serving ads based on keywords in those emails before they’ve reached the inbox of the intented recipients.

Such is the case of the lawsuit, filed in June in Marlin County Superior Court. The three men who filed the lawsuit note that the CIPA, or California Invasion of Privacy Act, has been violated in the ad serving process.

A quote from the ABC article:

“We began the investigation quite some time ago when a client came to us,” said F. Jerome Tapley, a lawyer in Birmingham, Ala. who represents the plaintiffs. “They noticed that the ads within their email browser were strangely correlating to the incoming email they were getting from their friends. It creeps people out.”

Yahoo has yet to respond to the lawsuit, but a Google spokesperson noted that ‘no humans read users’ emails or Google account information in order to show advertisements.’

Next to that, what about spam filters? These days we’re so happy with them (even though spam has been on the decline as of last year): if Google, Yahoo and other email providers would not check the content of emails, how could they decide what was spam or not?

It will be interesting to see how this will pan out: this might have a big effect, not just on ad targeting and serving, but also on spam filters.

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