Google accused of ‘wiretapping‘ in Gmail scans

Wiretapping is typically the stuff of spy dramas and shady criminal escapades. But now, one of the world’s biggest Web companies, Google, must defend itself against accusations that it is illegally wiretapping in the course of its everyday business – gathering data about Internet users and showing them related ads.

The accusations, made over several years in various lawsuits that have been merged into two separate cases, ask whether Googlewent too far in collecting user data in Gmailand Street View, its mapping project. Two federal judges have ruled, over Google’s protests, that both cases can move forward.

The wiretapping rulings are the latest example of judges and regulators prodding Google over privacy violations. The company is on the defensive, struggling to convince overseers and its users that it protects consumer data, while arguing that the law is stuck in the past and has failed to keep up with new technologies.

“It’s been a bad month for Google,” said Alan Butler, a lawyer at the Electronic Privacy Information Center. “What’s at stake is a core digital privacy issue for consumers right now, which is the extent to which their digital communications are protected from use by third parties.”

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