Google accused of illegally displaying advertising emails in Gmail

Google is the subject of a privacy breach complaint. Reason: sending unsolicited advertising emails to users of the Gmail email service.

Noyb (Non of Your Business), an Austrian non-profit organization active in the field of the protection of rights and freedoms, filed this Wednesday, August 24 a complaint against Google with the National Commission for Computing and Freedoms (CNIL) in France.

According to Noyb, Google has violated Directive 2002/58/EC of the European Parliament and Council of July 12, 2002 which concerns the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy. A violation of which Google is guilty by sending advertising emails on Gmail without the consent of their recipients.

These emails, well known to users of the free email tool, appear alongside an “announcement” mention in green letters. They are not accompanied by any date of receipt. They are placed alongside the emails actually sent to the user, but in reality only contain advertising purchased by advertisers from Google.

According to the law mentioned by the association “the use […] e-mail for the purpose of direct marketing can only be authorized if it targets subscribers who have given their prior consent”, recalls Noyb in his complaint.

However, “neither Google nor any other advertiser has obtained the consent of the required recipients”, underlines the Austrian organization which, through this complaint, represents three Gmail users who received advertising emails from Google.

“When the complainants signed up for Gmail, or even later, they were not asked to consent to having these advertising emails sent to them,” Noyb insists.

Application for sanctions

On this basis, the organization calls for the opening of an investigation to “determine who is the sender of Gmail advertising emails, what data is collected and stored by these senders and Google, and how these senders can report proof of consent. plaintiffs”.

Secondly, Noyb demands an order to stop sending advertising emails of this nature and, finally, suggests that the Cnil impose a “proportionate and dissuasive” fine on Google in accordance with the laws relating to the computers, files and freedoms.

This would not be the first pecuniary sanction pronounced by the Cnil against Google. The French organization, reputed to be one of the strictest personal data regulators in Europe, already pronounced, in January, a record fine of 150 million euros against the Mountain View firm for not having respected the legislation governing the use of “cookies”.

For now, Google has not publicly commented on these accusations.

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